Valley Voices Support for Medicaid Expansion

Spokeswoman for Arise, Ramona Casas

Political activists from across the valley are traveling to Austin to voice their support for Medicaid expansion.

Supporters of groups like Arise, Proyecto Azteca and Lupe gathered in McAllen Monday to rally before they make their way to the state capitol.

It's in response to Governor Perry's stand rejecting Medicaid Expansion which would provide Medicaid assistance to low income adults.

About 42 percent of Hidalgo County residents have no medical insurance, that TMs nearly twice the state average.

"A lot of people, even a lot of those who have health insurance don't make enough to pay for the rest of their families to have it, Texas Organizing Project representative Emi Zuniga said.

More than 1,000 other supporters of Medicaid expansion from across the state are also expected to join them.

If the governor approves the Medicaid expansion it would bring $600 million a year in federal money to the valley for the first three years. Then the state would have to foot 10 percent of the bill after that.

Mary Lopez is joining the group heading to Austin Tuesday.

She wants to share her story with representatives.

About six months ago Lopez took a nasty fall and sprained her left knee.

"It hurts, it TMs pain 24/7. I have to be using a walker so I can walk right, lopez said.

With no insurance the recent college graduate went to get it looked at by a doctor in Reynosa.

She was told she needs surgery, but she can't afford it.

"I'm young, so I don't have much money."

Like millions of other Americans, Lopez makes too much money to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to buy her own insurance or pay out of pocket.

Spokeswoman for Arise, Ramona Casas says we need a better medical system.

"The low income families are working families and can't qualify for Medicaid."

Raul Mora is insured but doesn't make enough to add his wife onto his plan.

"We cannot afford to pay an extra insurance. It TMs hard," Mora said.

Mora says they go across the border or go without.

With Medicaid Expansion more than 1.5 million Texans like Lopez and Mora would be eligible to receive the medical assistance.

That's why they say this has to be done.

"That's why I TMd like to go tell them there are a lot of people in need of insurance, Lopez said.

Both the Texas Hospital Association and Texas Medical Association support the Medicaid expansion, citing that it will free up emergency rooms since Medicaid recipients will be able to afford a family doctor.

Our emergency rooms are filled down here because they are being used as doctor TMs offices, Zuniga said.

People without insurance have to wait until it is a medical emergency and then they are sicker and the cost is much more expensive, executive director of Proyecto Aztca Ann Williams Cass said.

The Hidalgo County Commissioner TMs Court has also voiced their support of the Medicaid expansion.