Obama to push Republican governors for ObamaCare expansion of Medicaid

President Obama will press Republican governors to allow the ObamaCare expansion of Medicaid into their states during a trip to Dallas on Wednesday, according to White House and local officials.

The president will call on Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) to "put politics aside" and "not deny people healthcare because of ideology," White House deputy senior adviser David Simas told reporters on Tuesday.

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When the Affordable Care Act originally passed, states were required to expand Medicaid coverage for all individuals making below the federal poverty level or within 138 percent of it.

But the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that the federal government couldn't force states to expand the joint program, enabling some Republican governors, including Perry, to reject the growth of Medicaid in their states.

Because of the way the ObamaCare law is written, consumers below that income level aren't eligible for the federal tax credits designed to help offset the required purchase of insurance on the insurance marketplaces. That means that in states that have opted not to expand Medicare, a certain slice of the population is neither poor enough to qualify for government health insurance, nor rich enough to buy their own coverage on the ObamaCare exchanges.

The White House estimates that in Texas, 1.2 million individuals are caught in that divide.

"If it makes sense anywhere to expand Medicaid, it makes sense in Texas," said San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro (D), who said poor and uninsured residents put a strain on state and municipal budgets.

"In this city, every day, we see the impact," said Castro, an ally of Obama's who gave the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention last year.

Perry has said that expanding the Medicare system would be "like putting another thousand people on the Titanic.”

“The president himself said Medicaid was a broken system, and I totally agree with him,” Perry said in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle. ”So why would we want to put another X numbers of hundreds of thousands of people on Medicaid programs that are broken?"

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said earlier this year that the state is leaving some $79 billion on the table by refusing to expand the program. She also said that the federal commitment fully covered the expansion.

During his visit, Obama is also expected to thank neighborhood canvassers and navigators assisting in enrolling uninsured consumers in ObamaCare. He'll stop at Temple Emanu-El to meet with volunteers from Dallas Area Interfaith, a community group working on enrollment and outreach.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said he expected the president's trip to give a "shot in the arm" to individuals on the front lines of the healthcare enrollment process. He said the trip would also energize individuals who had been unsuccessfully lobbying Perry to expand the Medicaid program.

The visit to Texas is the latest attempt by the White House to rally supporters behind the president's healthcare law, despite a spate of discouraging headlines highlighting the technical glitches and mismanagement that have plagued its rollout.

"When the unexpected happens, when the unanticipated happens, we’re just going to work on it; we're going to fix things that aren't working the way they should be; we're going to smooth this thing out, and we're just going to keep on going," Obama told supporters at an Organizing for Action healthcare summit on Monday night.

"We are going to keep on going because it is too important to too many people, not just in this generation but in future generations," he continued. "And we’ve got to make sure that we stay on track to make this work."

Separately, White House officials and Cabinet members are being dispatched to the 10 cities with the highest rates of uninsured residents that participate in the federal marketplace. 

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan will travel to Tampa, Fla., on Friday, and Labor Secretary Tom Perez will visit Orlando, Fla., next week, a White House official said.
 
During his Dallas trip, Obama will also attend a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee fundraiser that was postponed in early October due to the government shutdown.