Enroll in Health Care Today
Texans can buy health insurance through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace NOW through December 15th.
Federal health law created the marketplace for people who don’t get insurance through an employer, Medicaid or Medicare.
Despite what President Trump says, the ACA is still the law of the land and the federal funding is available for the millions of Texans who wouldn’t be able to afford coverage otherwise. Get enrolled today.
Texas leads the nation in the number and percentage of people without health coverage, and has 121,000 fewer Texans have health care coverage than had coverage a year ago.
The impact on Texas children is particularly troubling. Health care coverage provides children access to care that makes it more likely that they will succeed in school, get better-paying jobs, and become healthy adults.
At the national level, health care has become a divisive issue, even among progressives. However, as progressives, we need to continue to expand and improve access to affordable, high-quality health care. Here at the state level, the LSG will continue to fight to ensure that Federal policy is properly implemented so as many people as possible get access to high quality and affordable health care.
Losing Recent Gains
In 2017, for the first time since the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the number of uninsured Texas children increased. From 2016 to 2018, Texas saw a 16 percent increase in the number of uninsured children. 11.2 percent of Texas children-or 873,000 children-were uninsured in 2018.
The Center for Public Policy Priorities (CPPP) estimates that at least 350,000 of the 835,000 Texas children who were uninsured in 2017 were eligible for Medicaid or CHIP but were just not enrolled. Medicaid serves over half of Texas newborns and two out of five Texas kids of all ages, making it very important to eliminate bureaucratic roadblocks that deny access.
Health Care is a Priority, but State Leaders Turned a Deaf Ear
Health care was considered one of the most important issues in 2018, and a 2019 poll found that 91% of Texans believe the state has a role to play a functioning health care system. LSG members heard voters’ concerns and in the 2019 session filed legislation and offered amendments to expand Medicaid and access to health care. Unfortunately, state leaders did not consider our “worst in the nation” rate of uninsured a priority worthy of action.
Paxton’s “Don’t Get Sick” Lawsuit Would Kill the ACA, Make Things Worse
Instead of expanding health care coverage, Texas state leaders support a federal lawsuit that would make things worse. In December 2018, on the next to last day for ACA enrollment, an activist “conservative” federal judge in Ft. Worth ruled, in a case led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, that the ACA was unconstitutional. Paxton filed the case with the support of several other Republican states Attorneys General. The ACA is the reason the number of uninsured in Texas had decreased in Texas until a new administration started trying to neglect it to death.
The ACA has survived more than 70 legal challenges, including a Supreme Court challenge, but Attorney General Paxton’s lawsuit would harm Texans and the Texas economy because it would:
- Eliminate protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions;
- Eliminate the ability for children to be kept on their parents’ insurance until age 26;
- Eliminate cost-effective federal funding for Medicaid expansion;
- Negatively impact Medicare and the entire health care system; and
- Increase the number of Texans without health care because neither Paxton nor any Texas state or federal administration leader has proposed an alternative affordable, high-quality health care plan.
In response to the Attorney General’s lawsuit, I filed HB 565 this past session to ensure that these ACA protections would remain regardless of the outcome of this court case. Read more about the Potential Impact of Texas v. US Decision on Key Provisions of the ACA.
The Impact of Inaction
Texas’ failure to expand Medicaid has come at a cost to the state not only in terms of health, but also in terms of the economy, local government tax impact, and homelessness. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 37 states (including DC) have adopted the Medicaid expansion and only 14 states have not adopted the expansion. This includes Red states like Arkansas, Louisiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Indiana.
Medicaid expansion should not be a partisan issue. It is a matter of dollars and common sense.
Texas is the most uninsured state, both in terms of the number and percentage of Texans without health insurance. Shamefully, 17.7% and about 5.5 million Texas residents do not have health coverage. Texas uninsured rate is about double that of the national average which is about 8.9%. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) review of 324 studies of the impact of state Medicaid expansion under the ACA found that states that expanded Medicaid experienced large reductions in uninsured rates that significantly exceed those in non-expansion states. Additionally, the KFF review found numerous studies have found that coverage expansion has led to better health outcomes, and quality of care. If Texas were to expand Medicaid, an estimated 1.1 million low-income Texans would become eligible for health care coverage.
Medicaid expansion has helped vulnerable populations, people of color, and rural populations according to the KFF review. Additionally, the lack of Medicaid expansion has hit rural Texas hard, as Texas leads the nation in rural hospital closures with 26 closures since 2010.
The Texas economy could benefit if we expanded Medicaid. The KFF review showed Medicaid expansion has improved state economies, including budget savings, revenue gains, and overall economic growth. For example, Medicaid expansion could have prevented rural hospital closures in Texas that have an economic toll, costing – on average – 170 jobs and an annual payroll of $22 million. Additionally, multiple studies reviewed by KFF suggest that Medicaid expansion has led to savings by offsetting state costs in other areas, including behavioral health, and the criminal justice system.
Concerns about the cost of expansion to the state are often overblown, as Medicaid expansion pays for itself. As of Summer 2018, a number of expansion states reported using new or increased provider taxes/fees or savings accrued as a result of the expansion to fund all or part of the state share of expansion costs.
Local Government Tax Impact
The cost of providing health care for uninsured Texans is often passed down to the local taxpayer because local public hospitals are required by law to treat and stabilize people regardless of their ability to pay. The cost of doing this is considered “uncompensated care” and is paid for by local taxpayers. If Texas were to expand Medicaid, we could cut that cost by over 40% according to the KFF review. One study in the KFF review found that between 2013 and 2015, a reduction in uncompensated care costs across all expansion states lead to a savings of $6.2 billion. Additionally, Texas hospital closures have a ripple effect in the community, reducing sales tax revenue to local government, reducing school student enrollment and thus cutting state payments to the local school, and hurting local businesses across the community.
Impact on Homelessness
This interim has been highlighted by the Governor’s Trumpian-like twitter tirade against Texas’ homeless population. Despite his many tweets, the Governor has offered no real solutions to the issue. However, analysis done by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows that Medicaid expansion can help people experiencing homelessness find a home and remain housed. Additionally, the CBPP report found that “Medicaid can also play a key role in preventing homelessness, which often results from unforeseen medical expenses. Families that gained private health coverage using ACA subsidies are significantly less likely to miss rent or mortgage payments.” Texas can no longer afford inaction on Medicaid expansion.
Working to Expand Medicaid
This session, I continued to fight for Medicaid expansion in Texas. I was part of President Obama’s State Legislators for Health Reform, which was a working group of 32 state legislators which helped write, pass, and implement the Affordable Care Act (ACA). For the fourth session, I authored a bill to expand Medicaid in Texas. My HB 565 would have expanded Medicaid in Texas and codified important ACA protections into Texas law. It received a hearing, but regrettably did not get voted out of committee.
Election Results & Run-Off Election Info
Last week, Houstonians, Texans, and Americans all over the country went to the polls to vote on everything from Constitutional Amendments to new Governors. Democrats continued to build momentum and achieve historic wins on many levels of government. Below you will find some of the highlights from the elections.
–The METRO Transit Authority, Prop A PASSED, which grants bonding authority to METRO to finance future projects without increasing taxes as the bonds will be paid back by future METRO revenue. Approval of Prop A allows METRO to continue to contribute to the General Mobility Program through 2040 and complete 500 miles of travel improvements around Harris County, including needed improvements for District 147, such as METRO Rail extension to Hobby Airport, improvements to the Wheeler Station, and both METRO Rapid and BOOST Corridor stops.
–The Mayoral race will be going to a run-off election next month between incumbent Mayor Sylvester Turner and Tony Buzbee. I will continue to support and endorse Mayor Turner and I will keep you updated on this very important race.
-Congratulations to the following for winning their respective races: Chris Brown for Houston City Controller; Dave Martin for Council Member, District E; Robert Gallegos for City Council Member, District I; and Martha Castex-Tatum for City Council Member, District K.
-I will continue to support and endorse the following in December’s run-off election: David Robinson for City Council Member, At-Large Position 2; Sallie Alcorn for City Council Member, At-Large Position 5; Abbie Kamin for City Council Member, District C; Karla Cisneros for City Council Member, District H; and Rhonda Skillern-Jones for HCC District II.
–Out of the 10 Constitutional Amendments on the ballot, voters approved all but 1. The approved propositions will increase access to clean water, direct funds to support our state parks, continue the work of the CPRIT (Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas), fund floor-prevention efforts, and allow law enforcement animals to be gifted to their handlers once the animal retires from service.
Since Trump took office, Democrats have flipped governorships in 10 states: Kansas, Nevada, New Mexico, New Jersey, Illinois, Maine, Wisconsin, Michigan, Virginia, and now Kentucky. We must continue to support efforts to elect democrats and get out and vote! The 2020 presidential election is approaching fast.
–KENTUCKY: In a state where Trump won by 30% in 2016, Democrat Andy Beshear beat Republican incumbent Governor Matt Bevin in the Kentucky governor’s race.
–ARIZONA: Former Tucson City Council member Regina Romero was elected the city’s first female and first Latina mayor. Romero will now be the only Latina mayor in the country’s 50 most populous cities.
–VIRGINIA: Democrats flipped BOTH the state House and Senate for the first time in almost 25 years. Also in Virginia, Juli Briskman – the cyclist who flipped off President Trump’s motorcade in 2017 and was subsequently forced to resign from her job for it – won her race to become supervisor for the Algonkian District in Loudoun County, Virginia. Danica Roem, the first ever openly transgender person elected to a state legislature in the US, was re-elected – also a first in the country. Ghazala Hashmi became the first Muslim woman elected to the Virginia Senate.
MAINE: Safiya Khalid became the first Somali American elected to Lewiston City Council in Maine.
MINNESOTA: Nadia Mohamad became the first Muslim woman and the first Somali elected to the city council in St. Louis Park, Minnesota.
MISSISSIPPI: Lynn Fitch became the first woman to serve as Mississippi’s attorney general.
What To Watch This Week:
Cartoon of the Week