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Republicans and Democrats banded together in the Legislature last week to do something about rising prescription costs. House Bill 25 would create a wholesale prescription drug importation program with Canada. It has passed the House and has the necessary support to clear the Senate and go to Gov. Greg Abbott, who has promised to sign the bill.

We at the Register say, “Well done!”

We want to thank Abbott and the legislators for their support of the move, which will help the over 40% of Texans who currently ration their meds or skip taking them altogether due to cost. We hope it’s a harbinger of things to come: more attention to people’s actual needs and less time wasted on wedge issues like drag queens.

Maybe, just maybe, Abbott and the legislature are ready to seriously consider accepting the federal Medicaid expansion that the state has shunned for nearly a decade. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), states can greatly expand Medicaid coverage. The first three years are paid for entirely by the feds, then that share drops to 90% and would leave Texas responsible for the remaining 10 percent.

Current Medicaid eligibility rules in this state are a cruel joke.

“In Texas, the state with the lowest eligibility threshold, parents in a family of three with incomes above $3,977 annually, or just $331 per month, are not eligible for Medicaid,” stated a report from the healthcare watchdog Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF).

The KFF report goes further.

“States that have not implemented the expansion have uninsured rates that are nearly double the rate of expansion states (15.4% compared to 8.1%). People without insurance coverage have worse access to care than people who are insured. One in five uninsured adults in 2021 went without needed medical care due to cost and uninsured people are less likely than those with insurance to receive preventive care and services for major health conditions and chronic diseases,” according to KFF.

Aside from extending coverage to hundreds of thousands — perhaps millions — of Texans who need proper medical coverage, the Medicaid expansion would buttress the finances of rural hospitals like Gainesville’s North Texas Medical Center and Muenster Memorial Hospital. More steady income for these vital institutions wouldn’t just improve their books; in addition, it would enable them to recruit more specialists (rheumatologists, internists, oncologists, etc.) to Cooke County. That would save a lot of trips to doctors in Dallas, Denton and Sherman, wouldn’t it?

Yes, we know the fact that the ACA was enacted by a Democratic Congress and a Democratic President makes it politically tough to get the expansion through our heavily conservative Republican legislature. And yes, Gov. Abbott would probably refuse to sign any bill that may, however unlikely, get through the Legislature to his desk.

We don’t care. Expanding Medicaid for Texans would extend medical care to families who very much need it. It would make for healthier and more productive students and workers. It would improve healthcare delivery across rural Texas for the poor, the working class, the middle class — for all of us.

We at the Register hope you will nag our elected representatives into giving the Medicaid expansion the serious consideration it deserves.

It’s the right thing to do.

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