by Joan McCarter
Shortly before 1 a.m. on July 15, Gov. Greg Abbott sent an email from his personal account to his top advisers about an editorial published by the Houston Chronicle. Its author, Ken Janda, had written that Texas' health care safety net system for the poor and uninsured was "in serious danger of meltdown" because state leaders were refusing to expand health coverage to a million uninsured Texans living in poverty.Echoes of "time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee." In actuality, Jandal's system is not rolling in dough. While the insurance plan made a net $16 million in 2014, the hospital is actually $72 million in the red. They've had to lay off 250 employees this year. It got about a fifth of its revenue in 2013 from a federal program that reimburses for uncompensated care—a Medicaid program that in Texas is set to expire in September of next year. That's the same program that Florida Gov. Rick Scott is suing the Obama administration over, the program that is being phased out because Medicaid expansion is available to supplant it. While Abbott was considering political repercussions against Janda, he was also emulating Scott, and trying to get more Medicaid money out of the Obama administration. Like Scott, he recognizes that the state is in serious financial straits and that health care for the poor is the biggest problem—just as Janda wrote in his op-ed that brought Abbott's wrath. But of course Medicaid expansion is Obamacare, and they don't want no stinkin' Obamacare, so they want a different, untainted pot of the same Medicaid money. Lucky Texas. They got Chris Christie and Rick Scott all rolled into one crappy governor.
The governor told aides he wanted to "see the financials" of Janda's nonprofit Community Health Choice, a health insurer affiliated with the Harris Health System, one of Texas' largest public hospitals.
"I'm told by informed sources that most of these entities are rolling in dough," Abbott wrote. […]
At 6:30 a.m. on July 15, Abbott's policy director Drew DeBerry forwarded the governor's note about the editorial to other aides, asking them to compile information about the hospital system's profits.
"By engaging in this ridiculous editorial, this specific hospital has now put themselves on the list" of facilities whose finances the aides should review, DeBerry wrote.