Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

March 25, 2013

Water quality, fire, Medicaid issues face state lawmakers

Jacksonville Daily Progress

JACKSONVILLE — With a harmful drought looming over our land and recent memories of wildfires raging across plains and forests, the Leg-islature has taken steps to address the pressing water quantity problem so we can ensure that our current and future populations have plenty of life's most precious resource. To this end, I am a proud co-author of House Bill 4, which sets aside funds for investments in vital water infrastructure projects; however, the other side of this policy coin is making sure that our rural volunteer fire departments have the resources essential to putting these drought fires out when they arise. That is why I teamed up with several other House members in authoring House Bill 2751 and House Bill 487, which remove civil liability for people who volunteer their skills, efforts, and equipment to help our volunteer fire departments and the Texas Forest Service fight the ravenous wildfires without fear of being dragged into court for insurance purposes. I believe there should be nothing to hold our men and women back from doing their duty to protect our land and property.

This week, I'd like to briefly address a topic which has been the subject of many intense discussions throughout our country. The expansion of Medicaid is an especially heated issue right now, and while much of the calamity is the result of unnecessary politically-charged statements, at the end of the day the debate is fueled by the passions of people who care deeply about the future of our state's healthcare system.

In June of 2012, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the mandated expansion of Medicaid was an unconstitutional coercion of the states, the highest court in the land reaffirmed the most basic principle of liberty: that we have the right to choose what's best for us. With this principle, we recognize that what works for one state may not be what's best for another, and in the case of Medicaid expansion, what works for Florida, Wisconsin, and New Jersey does not work for Texas.

When it comes to Medicaid expansion, what we need to be talking about is reform, not expansion. A wise man builds his house upon a rock and I believe that, at present, we're building Medicaid on the shifting sands of a federal bureaucracy.

Right now, Texas has a rare opportunity to remodel its healthcare system in a manner which cuts treatment costs by five to ten percent and enables us to appropriately compensate healthcare providers, while increasing the efficiency of care for the sick and elderly in our state. If we are successful in reform, we can allow for a reasonable expansion of services to all those in need.

Rather than being led about by the whims of other states, Texas will continue to look inward and map the best course for reform and good policy. It may be a road less-traveled, but we know what is truly best for us.

Visit my official member page at: http://www.house.state.tx.us/members/member-page/?district=11 to view all the legislation we're working on and please reach out to my Capitol or District office to share your thoughts on the issues.