The Brief: Top Texas News for July 11, 2012

The Big Conversation:

With Rick Perry emerging as the most public face of the fight against Medicaid expansion, how many Republican governors will follow his lead?

Perry's announcement on Monday that Texas would reject two central tenets of federal health care reform fanned the political firestorm that erupted after the U.S. Supreme Court last month upheld most of President Barack Obama's federal overhaul. Perry's move made Texas the largest state whose governor has rejected the Medicaid expansion set forth in the law, by which states would receive federal dollars for covering more low-income individuals.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott of Florida has already said his state will reject the Medicaid expansion. (In Texas and Florida combined, according to estimates, more than 2 million individuals will lose out on health insurance if the states choose not to expand their rolls.) The governors of Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina have also expressed strong opposition to the provision.

But as Politico reports, several other high-profile Republican governors — like Chris Christie of New Jersey, Bob McDonnell of Virginia and Scott Walker of Wisconsin — have yet to announce whether they'll expand their rolls, likely weighing the political risks of rejecting billions of dollars in federal funding.

"While we continue to believe the best option is to fully repeal and replace the [law], states now confront numerous deadlines and face major policy decisions in the wake of the Supreme Court decision," McDonnell wrote in a letter sent to the White House on Tuesday. "Before making any final policy decisions, governors must carefully consider the short and long-term implications of an expanded entitlement program and the consequences of significantly increasing the size of government to manage these programs."

Whether Perry can corral the undecided governors to his side remains unclear. But he'll have a possible shot at a National Governors Association meeting this weekend in Virginia. And as Politico notes, Perry has already traded thoughts on the issue with governors like Louisiana's Bobby Jindal and South Carolina's Nikki Haley, meaning he might have some help.

In other health care news…

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a letter sent to governors on Tuesday that low-income individuals in states that opt out of the Medicaid expansion will not be subject to the federal mandate to purchase health insurance.

Culled:

  • On the second day of the state's long-awaited voter ID trial in Washington, two Hispanic state lawmakers testified that Republicans quickly pushed the contentious bill through the Legislature over the protests of minority legislators. "The rationale was constantly changing. One of the comments was this was a solution in search of a problem," said the Justice Department's first witness, state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, who fiercely fought the bill.  The Justice Department, which is challenging the law, also called state Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, who echoed Martinez Fischer's concerns. "We thought the secretary of state's office could furnish [data on voters] to us so that we could make good decisions," Anchia said. "That data was never provided."
  • U.S. Senate candidate Ted Cruz is facing a $200 fine for failing to file his personal financial statement on time, the Tribune's Jay Root reports today. Statements were due about two months ago, but Cruz's campaign manager said the candidate didn't find out about the oversight until the Tribune inquired about it last week. "We plan to send in that late fee, absolutely. If we are required to submit any other fees or penalties, we will do so right away, absolutely. Full compliance and full disclosure," said a campaign manager.
  • The Texas Department of Criminal Justice announced Tuesday that Texas would become the latest state to use a single drug to administer lethal injections. Since reinstating the death penalty in 1982, the state had used a three-drug cocktail, but a shortage has forced states to seek replacement drugs, like pentobarbital, which is used to euthanize animals. Nine Texas inmates are scheduled to be executed between July 18 and Nov. 14.

"I don’t know what will happen as this case moves forward, but I can assure you that the Justice Department’s efforts to uphold and enforce voting rights will remain aggressive." — U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, at the NAACP convention in Houston on Tuesday, on Texas' voter ID case

Must-Read:

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