THE BLOG

The Perry Principle

02/27/2013 10:22 pm ET | Updated Oct 25, 2013
  • James Moore Best selling author, TV political analyst, communications and public relations expert

The Perry Principle is simple to state: If a law, policy, or idea does not in any manner provide benefit to the businesses and personal welfare of Rick Perry's political donors, it is to be avoided.

Republican Texas Governor Rick Perry does not view the working poor as his constituents. Corporations seeking millions in business development grants and investments are his supporters, and they are rewarded, consistently, through institutions that give away tax money from the poor and middle class. These funds, the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT), the Emerging Technology Fund (ETF), and the Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF), have mostly benefitted individuals and businesses with political connections to Perry. CPRIT is still under a potential criminal investigation by the Travis County District Attorney.

That's ok, though, but it's wrong to accept health care from the federal government that would provide coverage for up to two million people. Perry, politically obstinate, will create victims of the uninsured to make his points with the White House. If he simply said yes, Medicaid from Washington would deliver $100 billion in funding over 10 years for Texas at a cost of about $15 billion to the state. The first three years are free. The state never spends more than 10 percent on the cost of Medicaid. But the Perry Principle requires Little Tex to say no even after Florida's conservative governor, who had resisted, has come to his senses. Rick Scott said that he just could not, in good conscience, deny health care to people who needed it. He is the seventh conservative governor to surrender to logic after saying they would not allow Medicaid expansion in their states.

But the Texas Rick would call the Florida Rick a wuss.

Perry will have blood on his hands, though, if he persists. People who would have health care will end up in situations that could have been avoided if Perry had said yes, and they will die. And it will be his fault. No one else's; Rick Perry's. He might as well have injected them with Ebola virus. And if those two million people get sick enough to go to the hospital, remember that the law does not allow them to be tossed out the door at publicly funded facilities. They will get care. And who do you think pays for that? Not Rick Perry. You will. Health insurance premiums will increase so hospitals can make up their losses. And local property taxes levied through hospital districts will also jump. A few years ago the Texas comptroller estimated uninsured health care cost taxpayers in the state about $10 billion annually. Almost equal to the state's share for 10 years of Medicaid coverage for those two million uninsured. No, it doesn't make sense. But this, mam, is Texas; we don't have to make sense.

Just so Rick Perry could say no. Dead people. And higher taxes.

Perry is, basically, telling the taxpayers of his state that they can go ahead and send their tax money to Florida to keep healthy the people who have a more rational governor. If Perry could say Medicaid was not needed because his state was well insured, he might begin to have an argument, but he does not; one out of every four Texans is without health care insurance, which is the highest rate of uninsured in the land of the free. According to several reports, the quality and availability of health care in Texas rates as the worst among the developed countries in the western world.

The contradictions and ironies in Perry's ignorance are too wild to ignore. His gun control arguments are that we need to address personal and human problems because guns aren't the issue. Funny, then, that accepting the Medicaid expansion would provide complete coverage for significant numbers of mental health patients, which Texas doesn't ever treat like health care priorities. The Kaiser Family Foundation recently ranked Texas last in health care in the U.S. at 51st, behind the District of Columbia. Even stupider is the fact that Perry's choice means that patients that are currently the most expensive for the state's share of Medicaid, like those getting long term home care or pregnant women, would be moved into Medicaid coverage paid almost completely by the federal government.

Perry won't last on this one. If his political people aren't working on a compromise and a message to follow, they will soon find themselves saying, "Oops." The Texas Medical Association, Texas Hospital Association, the Legislative Budget Board, and the Greater Houston Partnership are just a few of the organizations that want the Medicaid expansion. Houston and Harris County, for instance, would get about $4 billion annually in the deal and would have to fund only $50 million. What a lousy deal. No wonder Perry doesn't want to touch it. But the monied interests and Perry's pals will take this decision away from him. There are billions of dollars to be made by insurance companies and health care providers being paid by Medicaid for treating the ill. They will let the Texas governor know that his posturing has gone hyper-absurd and that, at least in this one instance, it might be a good idea to just grow up.

But some people never do.