GOP Tax Bill’s Dangerous Effects on Mental Healthcare / HISD Honors Hexser T. Holliday / Election Day Tomorrow / 7 Days Left To Get Healthcare

NAMI Texas: GOP Tax Bill Could Hurt People with Mental Illness

How the tax bills could hurt people with mental illness:

  • Increasing the cost of health insurance. The Senate bill eliminates the tax penalty for not having health insurance, which effectively ends the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that this would increase the number of uninsured Americans by 13 million by 2027. With fewer (mostly healthy) people insured, premiums will increase—making insurance less affordable for people with mental health conditions.
  • Reducing incentives to develop affordable housing. The House bill includes language that may hurt the supply of affordable housing for people with serious mental illness. Repeal of the tax exemption on private activity bonds (PABs), coupled with reductions in the corporate tax rate, will stifle housing development and result in 950,000 fewer units of affordable rental housing, according to the National Housing Trust. This will cause even greater challenges for people with serious mental illness who rely on Section 811 housing.
  • Ending the tax deduction for medical expenses. The House bill includes a repeal of the medical expense deduction, which allows people to deduct medical expenses that exceed 10% of their adjusted gross income. Eligible deductions can include payments for:
    • Visits with psychiatrists, psychologists or therapists
    • Inpatient psychiatric and substance use stays
    • Transportation to mental health treatment
    • Mental health medications
There’s more. The CBO estimates this tax bill will increase the deficit by $1 trillion over 10 years. That could increase the chance that Congress will choose to reduce this deficit by cutting other programs in 2018, such as Medicaid, the largest payer of community mental health services and supports for children and adults with mental illness.

What’s next?

On Dec. 4th, the U.S. House voted to go into conference committee with the Senate to negotiate a compromise between the differing House and Senate tax reform bills. When an agreement is reached, both chambers will vote on the final bill. If the bill passes both the House and Senate, it will go to the President for his signature or veto.

What can you do to help?

Your advocacy is needed now more than ever. Now is the time to call offices, send e-mails, visit staff in state offices, and to make sure your U.S. Representatives and Senators know your concerns. Please call your U.S. Representatives and Senators in Washington D.C. and tell them you oppose any dangerous tax bills that could impact the millions of Americans with mental illness. Thank you for all you do in helping to stop dangerous GOP efforts.

Click here to locate your U.S. Representative OR call the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121

Call your U.S. Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn:

Senator John Cornyn:
(202) 224-2934 in Washington D.C.
(713) 572-3337 in Houston
Fax: (202) 224-5220
Click here to email Senator Cornyn.

Senator Ted Cruz:
(202) 224-5922 in Washington D.C.
(713) 718-3057 in Houston
Fax: (202) 228-0755 in Washington D.C.
Click here to email Senator Cruz.

Nutrition Services facility named after district’s first African-American food services director

HISD’s Nutrition Services Support Facility located off Bennington Road in northeast Houston will now bear the name of the district’s first black food services director.

After a vote Sept. 14 by the HISD Board of Education, trustees unanimously agreed the facility will be called the Hexser T. Holliday Food Services Support Center.

Holliday served the Houston Independent School District from 1958 until his departure in 1996. He began his career at HISD as a culinary arts teacher at Yates and Booker T. Washington high schools. Over the course of his tenure, Holliday advanced to become the district’s Assistant Superintendent of Food Services, the first black food services director in the district and one of the first in the nation. 

“He meant a lot to me and my generation that came up after him,” says HISD Chief Nutrition Officer Betti Wiggins. “He was on the cutting edge. You could not find another African-American during that time period that was in a leadership position in school nutrition.”

From left to right: Hexser T. Holliday Jr., Hexser T. Holliday, and Representative Garnet Coleman

Below is a video about Hexser T. Holliday and his service to HISD.


Upcoming Health Care Enrollment Deadline

The 2018 Open Enrollment Period for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) runsthrough December 15, 2017. Plans sold during Open Enrollment start January 1, 2018.
Please sign up as early as possible as this six-week open enrollment period is shorter than in the past. Failure to enroll can result in paying a fine.
To enroll, visit
or call 1-800-318-2596.

Our allies at Cover Texas Now have provided vital information for Texans applying for health care during this enrollment period. Please see below.

  • Coverage is very affordable this year for folks who get financial help — many people can get covered for less than $10 per month.
  • Take the time to compare plans on and make sure you’re getting the best plan for your needs and budget.
  • Don’t wait until the last minute! The website may have problems handling high traffic in the last few days of enrollment based on past years.
  • In-person help is still available to help you enroll! Visit to find help near you.
Local enrollment assistance programs are listed on:

I will continue to keep you updated on the Open Enrollment Period. If you have any questions, please call my office at 512-463-0524.


Election Day in Harris County for the 2017 Runoff Election is TOMORROW, Saturday, December 9, 2017. Polls are open from 7am-7pm.

Click here to find your polling location.

To vote, you will need to show your approved form of photo identification.Approved forms of photo identification:

  • Texas driver license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)
  • Texas Election Identification Certificate issued by DPS
  • Texas personal identification card issued by DPS
  • Texas license to carry a handgun issued by DPS
  • United States military identification card containing the person’s photograph
  • United States citizenship certificate containing the person’s photograph
  • United States passport


I support Gretchen Himsl for HISD – District 1. Gretchen is a super volunteer in her neighborhood public schools, including serving two years as President of the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA). Gretchen currently works for Children At Risk, a non-profit organization that drives change for children through research, education and influencing public policy. She also works for the Children’s Learning Institute at UT Health, where she tutors English Language Learners and struggling readers. Her children have always attended Houston public schools. Gretchen is who we need guiding our public schools.

We have several songs for you this week, depending on your mood.
First, “Let it Go” from the movie Frozen, performed by Idina Menzel.
Second, the classic “Let it Snow” by Dean Martin.
Third, the Boyz II Men version of “Let it Snow.”


“Let it Snow” by Dean Martin.


“Let it Snow” by Boyz II Men.



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