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Texas coalition worries about tinkering with Medicaid

AUSTIN (KXAN) — As GOP leaders unveil and move their replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act through Congress, millions of Texans will be watching. Hundreds showed up Monday to protest changes to Medicaid by making it a “block grant,” giving state lawmakers money to implement health insurance for poor and disabled Texans without strings from Washington attached.

A coalition of several groups called “Cover Texas Now” rallied against several new ideas for healthcare. Kate Robinson from Austin fears changes to state-run insurance for poor and disabled Texans.

“I think everyone should care about it because healthcare effects us all,” said Robinson.

Her son was born with a disabled airway; speaking and eating didn’t come easy. Current Medicaid rules allowed her son to have healthcare coverage. If Washington goes with “block grants” — giving Texas the money without specific requirements — she worries her son would be left out.

“I honestly can’t even consider that because in my mind it would mean utter destruction for my whole family,” said Robinson.

“Republicans are just as compassionate as Democrats. We care and we want people to be covered,” said Michael Joyce from the Texas Republican Party. He says a block grant would allow lawmakers to match unique programs to uniquely Texan problems.

“It’s always a good thing when you don’t have to take cues from Washington, and we like to do things a certain way down in Texas,” said Joyce.

As many expect changes in the coming days, more than a million newly covered Texans — and four million Texans still without coverage — will be watching.

We reached out to Congressman Kevin Brady’s Ways and Means Committee to find out what day the process would begin. A committee staffer told us he was instructed to direct us to their website. That website did not have an answer. We reached out to a higher position in the office, and are waiting to hear back.

This story originally appeared 3/6/2017 on KXAN.