Is Rick Perry’s Bi-National Health Insurance Plan Too Ambitious?

on September 27 2011 10:13 AM
Rick Perry
Texas Gov. Rick Perry Reuters

Rick Perry, Governor of the State of Texas, has returned to stir up the nation over the past few weeks with his Bi-National Health Insurance Plan, which was first proposed back in August, 2001, at a U.S - Mexico Border Summit.

Bi-National Insurance Plan in a Nutshell

The Bi-National Health Insurance Plan was Perry's own ambitious scheme to provide Texas-funded coverage for residents along the U.S. - Mexico border. He wanted to implement an important study that will look at the feasibility of bi-national health insurance that could treat maladies unique to this region, by which he referred to a lack of preventive medicines required for childhood immunization and the limited availability of medical specialists for conditions like heart disease and diabetes.

As explained by Perry, the implementation of the policy will not attempt to merge the health systems of the two countries. Rather, it will allow private health plans to provide coverage to any Mexican or American citizen, residing within a maximum of 62 miles of the borders of either country.

Why the Bi-National Plan is Important

According to the Conservatives, the Bi-National Plan could address the worsening insurance situation in Texas. The policy, which was proposed in 2003, draws on the Texas State Senate report of the time, which stated that 26 percent of the Texas population was uninsured and that number was even greater in the border areas. The private market approach proposed by the policy could help Mexican-born U.S. residents to provide insurance cover for dependants in Mexico. If implemented, the policy could provide more access to preventive care and better management of chronic conditions.

Texas Healthcare Problems

In Perry's long tenure as the Governor of Texas, the State has managed to achieve heights that are enviable for others - such as the State's largest ever tax cut, low unemployment levels, a ban on second-trimester abortions, tort reform, expanding gun rights and a general pro-business atmosphere encouraging free-market competition. In addition, the State generated nearly 47 percent of all new jobs across the country.

However, the same State is in terrible shape as far as the health systems are concerned, with 26 percentage of the population remaining uninsured; a figure that is the highest in the country. 

By comparison, those Democratic States that opted for Obamacare are doing a much better job in refurbishing the healthcare sector.

As far as the Bi-National Plan is concerned, Perry was quoted at the Summit, as saying, The effort to combat disease and illness requires greater cooperative efforts between our two nations.

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, Katherine Cesinger, a Perry spokeswoman, said.

One of these numerous barriers could be the opposition from physicians' groups in Texas, who claim that the coverage offered in both countries could adversely affect the number of their clients.

The concept of Bi-National Health Insurance Plan died long back until it was again fueled by Republican Presidential candidate Sen. Rick Santorum, who attacked Perry for his record on illegal immigration.

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