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ACA Won’t Help Taxpayers Footing Bill For Uninsured

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Dallas County spends $650 million a year on healthcare. That is taxpayer money to care for uninsured patients who go to Parkland Hospital. It’s the county’s biggest expense.

Wednesday CBS 11 News learned, Dallas County taxpayers will still pay for that care — even when the Affordable Care Act takes effect next year.

At the Parkland Clinic in northeast Dallas anyone who needs medical help can see a health worker. Now, even with a campaign to sign people up for required health insurance, clinics like that one and others will still provide uninsured care to thousands.

At Parkland Hospital’s main clinic, at 1 p.m. today, it was standing room only, and most of those standing were without health insurance. An estimated 500,000 people in Dallas County are uninsured. Almost half of them, some 235,000, have at some time received Parkland-based medical care.

Despite the effort to get people enrolled in health plans tied to ‘Obamacare’, public health officials acknowledged there will remain a huge medical care demand for people ineligible for health coverage.

“We estimate 150-180,000 will still require Parkland Health Plus Program assistance,” explained Parkland Hospital Chief Operating Officer Sharon Phillips.

Phillips pointed to the thousands of county residents who are too poor to afford health insurance, and the state government’s denial to provide coverage through expanded Medicaid.

And then there’s the undocumented population. People with no legal status are not eligible for insurance plans through Obamacare. But they will still be able to access care in the Parkland system – with Dallas County taxpayers paying for it. In all, half-a-billion dollars will finance the county’s uninsured.

Phillips said, “We will continue to see those individuals at Parkland as we do today.  We feel very strongly that it is a public health benefit to do that.”

And by ‘those individuals’ they man all uninsured… be they legal residents or undocumented residents.

Many argue that the number of people negatively affected and the amount of money it would cost the county could go down dramatically, if the Governor and lawmakers supported Medicaid expansion resulting in health insurance for low-income adults.

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