Once again, Texas’ Medicaid disenrollment is in the headlines and the mainstream media is turning to its usual scare tactics to paint Texas as the bad guy.

As far back as September, The Texas Tribune ran a headline that 900,000 Texans have lost Medicaid, and painted a grim picture of children, new mothers, and disabled adults “left in anxious limbo where one health emergency could strap them with heavy debt.” The New York Times repeatedly ran articles on the dangers of children being disenrolled from Medicaid. The mainstream media’s hysterics that Texans will be left to suffer without Medicaid is deeply misleading; they ignore the real reasons for Medicaid disenrollment and perpetuating a broken government system.

Medicaid in Texas is intended for low-income families, pregnant mothers, seniors, or people with disabilities. That’s what Medicaid should be – a temporary option for most, with some long-term coverage for the few who truly need it.

As a result of the job losses and shutdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic, Texas faced a peak 12.9 percent unemployment rate, which made millions of Texans, mostly children of laid-off parents, eligible for Medicaid.

Between 2019 to 2023, nearly 1.7 million new Texans enrolled onto Medicaid and kept on for a long time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, by the end of 2022, unemployment dropped below pre-pandemic levels. People who had enrolled in Medicaid during COVID found jobs, and subsequently received new employer coverage, meaning that they—and their families—were no longer eligible for Medicaid.

Studies conducted by the Urban Institute and Paragon Institute found that of the 18 million people across the nation set to be disenrolled from Medicaid, 99 percent had employer-based coverage or another taxpayer funded plan. The idea that disenrollment from Medicaid left millions bereft of insurance is a myth.

The truth is Medicaid is not working for its current recipients, and having more people dependent on the system only makes it worse. In Texas, an increasing number of doctors are not accepting Medicaid because the program reimburses doctors at a far lower rate than most private insurance companies. By taking a large share of Medicaid patients at such a low rate, doctors and hospitals risk going out of business entirely. Fewer primary care doctors accepting Medicaid also means increased wait times, including in emergency departments and ambulance response times. Medicaid patients are not receiving holistic, quality, and timely care which  can have a detrimental effect on health outcomes.

For those worried about financially affording care for themselves and their families, there are options, including what is known as hospital “charity care.” Nonprofit and public hospitals in Texas are required to provide a certain amount of financial assistance to people who have no health insurance or who cannot afford their insurance cost-sharing.

Expanding a failing government program is not and should never be the answer. Texans deserve better than the false promises of Medicaid expansion. Programs like Medicaid should be a last resort limited to its intended demographic – those who truly need it. Texas children and adults were disenrolled because they had separate private insurance or were eligible for a different government plan. The Biden administration and the mainstream media must stop the unsubstantiated panic, look at the real reasons for disenrollment, and empower patients to get off a broken government system and seek the best care and best plan for them.