Texas Has Become Key State for Obamacare's Future

Image: Texas Has Become Key State for Obamacare's Future Residents wait to visit with volunteer counselors at Insure Central Texas on Oct. 1.

Monday, 07 Oct 2013 09:40 AM

By Audrey Hudson

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Ground zero for supporters of Obamacare is located in Texas, where an emergency hurricane shelter has become headquarters for an enrollment mobilization effort that includes a nonprofit group with close ties to President Barack Obama's 2012 campaign.

If Obamacare supporters can't convince a significant number of the state's 6.1 million uninsured residents to sign up for healthcare coverage, the program will miss enrollment targets nationwide, create a spike in insurance rates, and lead to the failure of insurance exchanges, Politico reports.

"We believe this effort is so critical that we have created an incident command structure," said Stephen Williams, director of the Houston Department of Health and Human Services.

ObamaCare: You Can Win With The Facts

"This is the same structure that we use to respond to hurricanes and to respond to public health disasters," Williams told Politico.

The Obama administration has poured an additional $11 million in federal grants into the state to pay for insurance navigators to help people enroll, while the city of Houston has donated a hurricane shelter to Enroll America, which Politico describes as a nonprofit group closely associated with the Obama presidential campaign.

In addition, enrollment information is being stamped on water bills and local libraries are encouraging patrons to sign up for Obamacare on public computers, all aimed at countering efforts by state officials to do as little as possible to encourage the state's uninsured to sign up.

The efforts are mostly aimed at the Hispanic population because one in three lack insurance. Statewide, one in four Texans lack health coverage.

Although Texas has the highest uninsured rate in the nation, Republican Gov. Rick Perry opposed the president's signature law and refused to expand the state's Medicaid program. Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz also led an effort to tie a rollback of Obamacare to a federal spending bill that resulted in the government shutdown, now in its second week.

Both Perry and Cruz claim the program will cripple the economy, while raising prices and lowering quality for consumers.

"The pleas from the American people, I can tell you in Texas, are deafening," Cruz said during a filibuster to block funding for Obamacare.

Urgent: Should GOP Stick to Its Guns on Obamacare? Vote Here.

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