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Push to opt out of Medicaid alarms Texas health providers

The Miami Herald, November 15, 2010

A push from conservative legislators for Texas to opt out of Medicaid is stirring alarm among healthcare providers and nursing homes, which say the potential loss of billions of federal dollars could drastically undercut efforts to provide healthcare for the poor.

The opt-out plan has quickly emerged as another high-profile topic for the 2011 Legislature, pushed by Gov. Rick Perry and a number of conservative lawmakers who believe that Texas can provide health coverage to the indigent more efficiently with a state-run plan free of federal mandates.

"We know how to deliver healthcare to more people in a less expensive way than what the federal government does," Perry said in Dallas last week while promoting his new book, Fed Up! He said states "need to stand up and say, 'We don't want your strings attached. We don't want you down here telling us how to run our business.'"

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