Sebelius petitions for 'uniquely Texan' approach to Medicaid

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Texas has refused to extend health insurance to additional low-income people under the Affordable Care Act, citing the future cost of maintaining that coverage.

The law encourages states to expand Medicaid coverage to people living at or below 133 percent of the poverty line using mostly federal funding.

In later years, states would be required to pay for a portion of the new benefits not to exceed 10 percent.

Several GOP governors have backed the policy, including Jan Brewer of Arizona, Brian Sandoval of Nevada and John Kasich of Ohio.

But Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) on Thursday repeated his opposition to taking part in the healthcare law's new programs.

"In Texas, we've been fighting ObamaCare from the beginning, refusing to expand a broken Medicaid system and declining to set up a state health insurance exchange," Perry said in a statement.

"We took these steps to minimize the damage ObamaCare will cause to our economy and state budget."

During her trip to Texas, which included meetings in Austin and San Antonio, Sebelius said Texas's opposition to healthcare reform presents a "real challenge."

The state has the highest proportion of uninsured residents in the country, and Sebelius said "lots of people ... will still come through the doors of emergency rooms to access healthcare, leaving uncompensated care bills for those hospitals to deal with and less healthy conditions for individuals and their families."

She added that "in all due deference to Gov. Rick Perry ... people are actually enthusiastically embracing the law," including benefits like free preventive care. 

Her comments were first reported by the Texas Tribune.