(Photo: Reuters/Chris Keane)
Texas Gov. Rick Perry is asking his state to reject more than $76 billion in federal funds by not expanding its Medicaid program in order to comply with the Affordable Care Act, better known as "Obamacare."
Perry, who on a number of occasions has balked at federal intervention, says complying with Obamacare could bankrupt the state and that the programs are "brazen intrusions to the sovereignty of our state."
He also maintains the PPACA would not result in better care or protection to Texas citizens.
"We in Texas have no intention to implement so-called state exchanges or to expand Medicaid under Obamacare," Perry said in a statement. "I will not be party to socializing healthcare and bankrupting my state in direct contradiction to our Constitution and our founding principles of limited government."
Perry, a former GOP presidential candidate, sent a strongly worded letter on Monday to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius accusing the Obama administration of "putting a gun to their heads," in a reference to language used by the Supreme Court to describe how the federal government is forcing states to comply with Obamacare.
"I stand proudly with the growing chorus of governors who reject the PPACA power grab," stated Perry in his letter. "Thank God and our nation's founders that we have the right to do so."
But Perry is not the first Republican governor to opt out of President Obama's signature health care law. So far, the list includes Nikki Haley of South Carolina, Rick Scott of Florida, Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana.
Jindal, who supported Perry in the GOP primary but is now being mentioned as a possible vice presidential running mate for Mitt Romney, also criticized Obamacare and said that electing Romney would be the best way to reverse the law.
"We're going to do everything we can to elect Mitt Romney, to repeal this bad law and then replace it with more patient-centered healthcare reform that puts patients in control," Jindal said in a statement.
After the Supreme Court upheld major parts of Obamacare in their 5-4 decision, Perry called the ruling "a stomach punch to the American economy."
Nonetheless, Perry is already taking heat from his state's hospital association which supports the legislation as a pay to reduce the number of uninsured people who routinely visit hospital emergency rooms. Approximately half of Texas residents do not have employer provided health insurance since many work in agriculture and retail – two industries that do not typically provide insurance for most employees.
"From an industry perspective, we are disappointed that Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced that Texas will not expand Medicaid coverage or implement a state health insurance exchange," said Steve Love, president of the Dallas-Fort Worth hospital council. "Since we will not establish a state health insurance exchange, the federal government will create one for Texas. Millions of Texans who were eligible to gain coverage through the Medicaid expansion will now not qualify."