Stand up for the facts!

Our only agenda is to publish the truth so you can be an informed participant in democracy.
We need your help.

More Info

I would like to contribute

By Eric Stirgus November 22, 2011

Did Rick Perry propose a bi-national health care plan with Mexico?

The term "Obamacare" is used by critics to describe the health care overhaul that President Barack Obama signed into law last year.

And some conservatives derisively use the phrase "Romneycare" to slight Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and the changes he approved to Massachusetts’ health care system when he was governor there.

How about "Perrycare"? That’s Georgia anti-illegal immigration activist D.A. King’s term for what he contends was an effort by Texas governor and Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry to impose a binational health care plan between his state and Mexico. King even has a website dedicated to highlight Perry’s stance on immigration issues.

King is one of the most vocal voices in Georgia’s ongoing debate over illegal immigration.

"Granting instate tuition to illegals is only a small part of Perry’s problematic record," King, president of the Dustin Inman Society, which is opposed to open borders between the U.S. and Mexico, wrote in a recent op-ed to the Marietta Daily Journal. "We noted that Perry had dismissed any consideration of a state immigration enforcement law such as Arizona, Georgia and other states struggled to put in place; had proposed a binational health insurance program with Mexico (Perrycare?); has expressed his support for legalizing the fugitive illegals who have escaped capture at American borders (it’s not amnesty, it’s a guest worker plan!); and refused to use the power of his office for any E-Verify legislation in Texas. So what if that state has one of the highest number of illegals in the country?"

King made a number of points, but we decided to look at the Perrycare charge because the presidential candidate’s immigration policy has come up in a number of other forums.

Some Perry critics describe him as being soft on illegal immigration because of his position on allowing students who are illegal immigrants to pay instate tuition at colleges in Texas. The criticism has hurt Perry’s standing among some Republicans. So we wondered if King had found another case in which Perry could be criticized as soft on illegal immigrants.

Our colleagues at PolitiFact Texas recently examined this issue when another GOP presidential candidate, Rick Santorum, a former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, said Perry supported binational health insurance. Santorum’s claim was rated Half True.

King dismissed the PolitiFact Texas ruling, forwarding us an e-mail with a widely circulated speech by Perry on the issue. The Texas governor urged lawmakers there to pass a telemedicine program that allows "individuals living on the Mexican side of the border" to get care from a specialist hundreds of miles away. Telemedicine is using forms of communication such as video conferences to provide health care, according to the American Telemedicine Association.

Perry also mentioned a study to look at the feasibility of binational insurance.

"This study recognizes that the Mexican and U.S. sides of the border compose one region, and we must address health care problems throughout that region," Perry said.

Those comments were made in August 2001, two weeks before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The study guidelines were outlined in House Bill 2498, passed by the Texas Legislature in 2001. It begins by stating the interest of the state to deliver affordable health care services to citizens "on both sides of the Texas-Mexico border."

The 141-page report, released in 2003, found some legal problems with the idea and logistical challenges, such as there are no laws in Mexico preventing a doctor from performing the duties of a specialist. The report found other problems. Some Texas health care providers were concerned that medical care in Mexico did not meet their standards, the medical equipment in Mexico was not as advanced and some medicine approved in Mexico may not meet Food and Drug Administration guidelines.

The report offered several options if Texas wanted to move forward with the idea. Perry and state lawmakers didn’t act. A spokeswoman for Perry noted to PolitiFact Texas that the Legislature took no further action on the topic.

Still, some websites have bashed conservative media for not being more critical of Perry.
"However, in spite of the Legislature’s failure to act, Perry made clear his willingness to funnel Texas’s assets to Mexico," an item in the New American website said. It then had excerpts from Perry’s August 2001 speech. The website failed to note that the speech was made two years before the study.

By signing the bill that allowed the study, and through his 2001 speech, we can see how some find seeds for Perry’s support of a binational health insurance program with Mexico. But the governor never acted on the study, and he hasn’t appeared to talk much about the subject since 2001.

Still, Perry pushed for the study, which implies his interest in the idea.

We rate King’s claim about Perry as Mostly True.

Featured Fact-check

Our Sources

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Eric Stirgus

Did Rick Perry propose a bi-national health care plan with Mexico?

Support independent fact-checking.
Become a member!

In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.

Sign me up