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Lawsuits & Litigation

Texas A.G. Paxton Sues Biden Administration Over Medicaid Waiver Rescission

— May 16, 2021

Paxton says that the Biden administration’s efforts to expand Medicaid access to uninsured Texans infringe upon the state’s sovereignty.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration over its decision to rescind a Medicaid waiver that would have provided the state with billions of dollars in health care funding.

The Houston Chronicle reports that the Trump administration had approved an extension to the Medicaid waiver shortly before the last commander-in-chief left office. But in April, federal health officials decided to revoke the extension, saying that President Trump had approved the waiver without public comment.

Nevertheless, Paxton’s lawsuit claims that the federal government does not have the power to overturn the Trump administration’s Medicaid decisions.

Furthermore, Paxton asserted that Texas had already made long-term financial decisions based off the expectations that its Medicaid funds would be available.

A 2013 image of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. Image via Wikimedia Commons/user:Alice Linahan Voices Empower. (CCA-BY-2.0).

“Not only does this violate agency regulations and threaten to rip a $30 billion hole in Texas’s budget, it was clearly intended to force our state into inefficiently expanding Medicaid under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” Paxton said in a statement. “This would be a disaster for our state, and yet President Biden seems intent on thrusting his bloated model of government on everyone—including Texas.”

The Houston Chronicle observes that the Biden administration’s waiver recission has been widely perceived as a move to pressure Texas into expanding Medicaid under the confines and provisions of the Affordable Care Act—something which most other states have done since the legislation was signed into law in 2010.

Biden, notes The Texas Tribune, has already tried to incentivize Texas to expand Medicaid eligibility by offering billions of dollars in additional Medicaid funding for low-income people.

However, Texas lawmakers have refused to move forward on the matter: Republican leaders have declined competing proposals to expand Medicaid, claiming they were too focused on other health care priorities to give the issue any attention. And earlier this week, the Legislature voted down an amendment which would have simply ordered a study on the potential benefits of Medicaid expansion.

While Medicaid advocates say an expansion would lower county costs and give health care benefits to up to 1 million low-income Texans, Paxton and his allies view the Biden administration’s move as a threat to the state’s sovereignty.

“This disgusting and unlawful abuse of power aimed at sovereign states must end,” Paxton said.

Somewhat ironically, the Texas Tribune reports that varied surveys have shown that most of the state’s residents support expanding Medicaid.

Texas has the highest rate of uninsured people in the United States.


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