Time for this week in Texas politics with Kimi Lynn King professor at the University of North Texas, in Denton.
A federal judge in Texas ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Obamacare, brought by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. It’s one of over 40 lawsuits that have been brought against the Affordable Care Act, says King.
“In our democratic system, the courts play a pivotal role,” she says. “Why this recent court decision is critical is because the federal judge, in essence, bought Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s argument. That when the 2017 reform came in and zeroed out the penalty for the individual mandate and eliminated coverage for preexisting conditions, that that gutted Obamacare in a way that had not be gutted by the 2012 Supreme Court Decision.”
What next? King says the court battles are probably far from over.
“So now we wait for it to go to the Fifth Circuit [Court] of Appeals and this will continue to play itself out. One thing you can be sure of, there will be more challenges to the Affordable Care Act,” she says.
Another topic that has gripped Texas is the fate of immigrant children being housed in federal shelters. King says a December 2018 audit counts more than 14,300 migrant children in federal shelters.
“What we are discovering,” she says, “is 60 percent of all institutionalized minors are held in Texas. So that’s about over 8,500 unaccompanied migrant children in 35 shelters across Texas. Texas is baring a disproportionate burden, in some ways, in terms of the migrant children being held.”
King also says there are growing concerns of abuse at these privately-run shelters.
“One of these, Southwest Key, which is out of Austin, has been found to have serious violations that have occurred. So the longer it goes on the more there will be a weariness out of people,” she says.
It cost more than twice as much to house a migrant child separate from their parents, King says, than if they were together.
“So the longer those kinds of statistics get out there,” she says,” and the growing concerns about abuse and how the private centers are being operated. You are gonna watch for more focus on that. Get ready for congressional hearing and get ready for Texas Governor Greg Abbott to step up and begin pointing out that Texas is carrying some of this burden. “