The Big Money Behind Texas’ Fight Against Medicaid Expansion

It’s not news that many conservative Republicans in Texas have lobbied and fought against the expansion of Medicaid in Texas. What is news is the coordinated attack that preceded that fight.

New documents—obtained by The Guardian and shared with the Texas Observer—show how the right-wing think tank Texas Public Policy Foundation and another conservative group, the Texas Conservative Coalition Research Institute, combined their attacks with a nationwide network of conservative organizations and funders. The documents contain 40 funding proposals from 34 states; the proposals were to be funded by the Searle Freedom Trust, a private foundation.

From the Observer:

The documents include a TPPF grant request to Searle to fund continuing attacks on Medicaid. In its application, TPPF claims credit for blocking Medicaid expansion in Texas and promises to push for looser federal requirements, including a block-grant approach that Gov. Perry has long sought that could result in tighter restrictions and fewer people covered by the government insurance program.

“[S]topping Medicaid expansion is just the first step,” TPPF’s application to Searle states. The “missing piece to complete our message is an economic forecast” showing how block-granting Medicaid would “bring significant savings” to the state.


The documents also show that TPPF and its backers view the research the group conducts as a tool to prod lawmakers into action and to inject conservative ideas into the mainstream. In 2012, Searle gave TPPF $30,000 to produce two Medicaid reports that “served as the intellectual foundation for meetings with Governor Perry, US Senators and Representatives,” the document states. (The list of donors obtained by the Observer last year shows that the Searle Freedom Trust donated $95,000 to the foundation in 2010.)

In its request for funding, TPPF repeatedly claims that its research on Medicaid translated into concrete political action. “TPPF met repeatedly with Governor Perry’s staff and key state lawmakers to ensure that Texas pursues Medicaid reform and refuses expansion. We also organized a high-profile press conference with state leadership to assert our resolve.”

Read all the documents here.

  • Avid Reader

    So TPPF is a “right-wing think tank” and TCCRI is “another conservative group” while Commonwealth Fund is “a foundation whose mission is to promote a high performing healthcare system that achieves better access, improved quality, and greater efficiency, particularly for society’s most vulnerable”. Interesting to see that you decided a left-wing think tank pushing their views deserves their lofty self described goals as the definition of the organization while the conservative versions pushing their views do not get the same treatment.

  • Informed Reader

    Those who have been steeped in healthcare policy for decades know that The Commonwealth Fund is anything but a “left-wing think tank”. It has performed in-depth, non-partisan research since it’s inception and is one of the most respected independent organizations in the nation. One look at its Advisory Board will show why it’s more important to be Informed than just Avid.

    • Avid Reader

      “The Commonwealth Fund marshaled its resources this year to produce timely and rigorous work that helped lay the groundwork for the historic Affordable Care Act, signed by President Obama”- The Commonwealth Fund.

      Nothing more than progressive cheerleaders.

  • BBTex

    Avid Reader: The press is just another special-interest group, masquerading as a voice and protector of the people. What I can’t determine is if the press acknowledges their biases and continues anyway, or if they naively believe that they are beacons of fairness and truth.

  • jack

    I agree with avid reader particularly how the tone of the article is arrogant and dismissive of a differing opinion. The reason I turned my back on the democratic party was their intolerance to any idea that did not fit to the “party line”. Reading this article would lead me to think you are either a leftist ideologue or a paid shill of some similarly “aligned” interest group. I don’t subscribe to D Healthcare for political slant but it seems to be everywhere.

    • Anti-ideologues

      Why bicker? Just explain why the richest country in the world cannot ensure an adequate level of nutrition, education, healthcare and housing, compatible with principles of religious teachings and human values, to its citizens.What are the long-term healthcare costs, economic and societal, for not providing an ounce of prevention? What are the long-term costs for not providing a large sector of the public with economic opportunity and casting a growing number of people into poverty and low paying service sector jobs?

      • Avid Reader

        I’ll play. Just explain which country is better at ensuring “an adequate level of nutrition, education, healthcare and housing compatible with principles of religious teachings and human values, to its citizens” than the US? What country allows it’s citizens more economic opportunity than the US?

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