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Texans Bring Call for Medicaid Expansion to Capitol Steps

KUT News
At a rally for Medicaid expansion in Texas at the Capitol on March 12, 2015, pets participated, too.

As the legislative session picks up steam, dozens of people from across the state came to a rally on the Capitol steps Thursday to show support for Medicaid expansion in Texas under the Affordable Care Act.

Speakers included Texas residents and business community leaders like the president of the Texas Hospital Association and chambers of commerce. 

But first, a crowd chanted "cover Texas now" and held up posters urging lawmakers to consider some kind of Medicaid expansion that would work for Texas.

Debra Walker from Houston came to speak with lawmakers through the Texas Organizing Project. She says taking federal money for Medicaid could add more jobs in the health care sector.

"I thought that’s what Texas was about. They’re building jobs in everything but they’re not building them in the right place," Walker says. 

This rally comes a week after Republican senators and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announced that unless the federal government allows Texas to make cost-cutting changes to how it administers Medicaid now, there won’t be Medicaid expansion in the state.

Bee Moorhead, the executive director of interfaith nonprofit Texas Impact, says it’s somewhat encouraging that lawmakers are at least bringing up the expansion debate.

"Medicaid supporters are not the only people who aren’t done talking about this issue," Moorhead says. 

Republican lawmakers also want to require Medicaid beneficiaries to have or seek employment in order to be covered by the program. 

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