Ahead of his Thursday speech before the Conservative Political Action Conference, Gov. Rick Perry has sent a letter to members of Texas' congressional delegation asking them to fight for flexibility for the state's Medicaid program.
In the letter, Perry reaffirms his pledge not to expand Medicaid, an important — if optional — tenet of President Obama's federal health care law. Medicaid serves the disabled and poor children; the Affordable Care Act aims to expand coverage to more impoverished adults.
Instead, Perry called on Texas' members of Congress to help get the state the flexibility to fix what he called a "broken system that doesn't work."
"I urge you to help your home state by securing flexible funding so we may tailor our program to specifically meet the needs of our citizens in a fiscally responsible manner," he wrote.
Perry also laid out some specific reforms he'd like to see in Medicaid, including establishing copays, deductibles and premium payments on a sliding scale for poor patients, using asset testing to ensure services are going to people who truly need them, and promoting the use of existing private health coverage and employer-sponsored plans.
These reforms are similar to proposals built into the state Senate's version of the proposed budget.
"With this increased flexibility, my goal is to better serve Texas' most needy," he wrote, "while promoting a sense of personal responsibility and ownership in an individual's own health care."
Not all recipients of the letter were impressed. Congressman Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, said while the number of Democratic and Republican governors expanding coverage increases, "Mr. Perry is hard-pressed to explain why the governor from the state with the most to gain is dead-set on standing in the way of Texas families having access to healthcare."
Here's video of Perry's CPAC address Thursday: