Perry aide: Texas request for health law funds ‘isn’t about ObamaCare’

Texas's request for funds from the president's healthcare law to bolster its Medicaid program "is not about Obamacare," a spokesman for Gov. Rick Perry (R) said Wednesday.

“This is not about Obamacare. The state of Texas has been providing these types of services via Medicaid waiver for decades," Perry spokesman Josh Havens said in a statement. "Additionally, this has nothing to do with expanding Texas’ Medicaid program. We do not support expanding Medicaid under Obamacare, and are not doing so here."


Havens's comments come as Texas is negotiating with the federal Medicaid agency over a plan to provide additional funding to cover people with disabilities.

The money would come from a program created under ObamaCare, which could raise questions for Perry ahead of a potential 2016 GOP presidential run.

Perry is a fierce critic of the president’s signature healthcare law, slamming it as a “monstrosity." He has refused at every turn to implement any part of the healthcare law, including an insurance exchange, the Medicaid expansion and even administrative changes.

Perry's office though said the negotiations are hardly an embrace of the federal healthcare law and that the governor wouldn't back down.

Texas has long used Medicaid waivers to tailor its coverage for people with disabilities, Havens said.

"The Texas Health and Human Services Commission will continue to move forward with these policies because they are right for our citizens and our state, regardless of whatever funding schemes may be found in Obamacare," he said.

Texas is seeking funding from an ObamaCare provision known as Community First Choice. The option provides extra federal funding for states to expand the use of home care and community-based treatment for certain disabilities.

Emma Sandoe, a spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), said the program provides valuable options for seniors and people with disabilities.

"CMS is pleased to be working with a number of states, including Texas, as they evaluate ways to participate in these programs to better meet the needs of people in their state," she said in a statement.

The pursuit of additional federal money originated with a bill Perry endorsed and signed last spring. The bill directed the state’s Health and Human Services Commission to maximize federal matching funds for attendant care.

According to the bill’s author, Republican state Sen. Jane Nelson, the bill assumed the state would receive a boost in such funds, though she has not said specifically where the money was supposed to come from.