News & Politics

Rick Perry’s Absurd Healthcare Claim: Texans Like Being Uninsured!

The former governor wears his state's uninsured rate as a badge of honor.

With 22 percent of residents uninsured, the Lone Star State bears the dubious distinction of having the nation’s highest rate of people without health insurance, but former Texas Governor Rick Perry wears that ranking as a badge of honor.

Appearing in the Granite State ahead of a potential 2016 bid for president, Perry told the New Hampshire Journal that Texans like their lack of healthcare quite well, thank you very much — and please serve that with a side of freedom fries.

“Texas has been criticized for having a large number of uninsured,” Perry said. “But that’s what Texans wanted. They did not want a large government program forcing everyone to purchase insurance.”

While Perry’s political base may be perfectly content to scrap the Affordable Care Act and its individual mandate, the governor conveniently glided over his role in denying coverage to 1.5 million Texans — with a median income of $833 — when he rejected Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion funds. Under Texas’ stringent Medicaid rules, non-disabled parents must earn less than 19 percent of the poverty level — an estimated $4,500 for a family of four — to gain coverage under the program.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 70 percent of uninsured Texans are in working families, with 40 percent living below the poverty level. Kaiser does not have statistics on how many consider their lack of coverage just another part of being liberty-loving Texans.

 

Luke Brinker is Salon's deputy politics editor. Follow him on Twitter at @LukeBrinker.

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