With protesters loudly chanting outside the governor's reception room in the Capitol, Gov. Rick Perry and leading Republicans stood before a crowd of reporters Monday morning to repeat their strong opposition to expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
The show of solidarity included U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, U.S. Reps. Joe Barton and Michael Burgess, leading Republicans from the Legislature and several conservative leaders.
"Texas will not be held hostage by the Obama administration's attempt to force us into this fool's errand of adding more than a million Texans to a broken system," Perry said. "Medicaid expansion is, simply put, a misguided and ultimately doomed attempt to mask the shortcomings of Obamacare."
Republicans have been under pressure from hospitals, counties and business leaders to expand the number of low-income Texans covered by Medicaid, receiving about $79 billion in federal money for 10 years. The cost to the state would be about $9 billion, state health officials estimate.
"Texans, however, know there is no such thing as free money," Perry said, adding that expanding Medicaid could cause taxes to skyrocket, crush the state's economy and "crumble" the state budget.
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst likened the federal government to a drug dealer, "giving the first hit for free, then you're hooked for years and years."
Cornyn and Cruz said the U.S. government cannot afford the cost of expanding Medicaid, putting states at financial risk when federal money is cut. "It's not free money," Cruz said. "It's our money."
The comments came in a press conference that followed a closed-door round table on Medicaid expansion.
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