Rick Perry Proposed Bi-National Health Insurance with Mexico
BY KELLY HOLT
MONDAY, 05 SEPTEMBER 2011
As media attention intensifies about Texas Governor Rick Perry’s run for the presidential nomination, an activist in Tyler, Texas, was prompted to say “More checking under the hood needed before we buy the car,” according to the Dallas Morning News (DMN).
The article focused on Perry’s comments at a Border Summit speech in south Texas (8-22-01), days before the 9-11 attacks, about bi-national health insurance — Texas-funded coverage for both U.S. and Mexican border residents. The governor’s statement favored a study, required by the Legislature, about “the feasibility of bi-national health insurance.”
The DMN continued, “Katherine Cesinger, spokeswoman for Perry’s campaign, downplayed the topic of bi-national health insurance. ‘A bill was passed by the Legislature that authorized a study to look into this issue, which ultimately concluded there were numerous barriers to accomplishing that idea, and the Legislature took no further action on this concept,’ she said.” However, in spite of the Legislature’s failure to act, Perry made clear his willingness to funnel Texas’s assets to Mexico. He stated in his Summit speech,
There are other challenges that require a unified approach, especially in the area of health care. A lack of preventative medicine means conditions that could have been eliminated through childhood immunizations show up in disturbing numbers later in life. Limited availability of medical specialists means conditions like heart disease and diabetes go untreated at alarming rates. In Texas, we recently placed a strong emphasis on preventative care when we expanded access to Medicaid for more low-income children by making the Medicaid enrollment process simpler. We allocated an additional $4 billion to the Medicaid program, and more than $900 million to the Children’s Health Insurance Program. I urged legislators to pass a telemedicine pilot program that will enable, through technology, a sick border resident of limited financial means to receive care from a specialist hundreds of miles away. But the effort to combat disease and illness requires greater cooperative efforts between our two nations. It is a simple truth that disease knows no boundaries. An outbreak of drug-resistant tuberculosis, for example, endangers citizens of both our nations. We have much to gain if we work together to expand preventative care, and treat maladies unique to this region.
Legislation authored by border legislators Pat Haggerty and Eddie Lucio establishes an important study that will look at the feasibility of bi-national health insurance. This study recognizes that the Mexican and U.S. sides of the border compose one region, and we must address health care problems throughout that region. That’s why I am also excited that Texas Secretary of State Henry Cuellar is working on an initiative that could extend the benefits of telemedicine to individuals living on the Mexican side of the border.”