Expanding access to quality, affordable health care while bringing down insurance premiums.
I believe that Texas can be healthier and that belief will be an over-riding goal for my work in the Texas Senate.
One of my top priorities is reversing the deep cuts to health and human services that occurred in past Legislative sessions. Restoring funding to women’s health, mental health and substance abuse programs is a fundamental part of my platform. Investing in human capital by ensuring a healthy workforce is good for Texas’ economy. Children cannot learn and adults cannot work when they are in poor health. It makes sense to promote the health and well-being of all Texans.
Texas has the highest rate of uninsured residents in the United States, and the problem is even worse in Harris County with almost a third of all residents uninsured. Governor Abbott and the Republican leadership in the legislature have adamantly and repeatedly refused to accept Medicaid expansion as part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), even though billions of federal dollars would flow into Texas to help pay for it. It’s time for us to take advantage of the federal dollars that will only make our state healthier and abandon political ideology that only hurts us. I will fight to expand our Medicaid program, while reforming the system and restoring a fair and predictable payment methodology to doctors for the care that is provided.
Refusal to expand Medicaid along with budget cuts to the health care infrastructure result in passing the costs to local governments, and ultimately, the taxpayer. Local property taxes as well as private insurance premiums will rise in order to cover the costs of uncompensated health care at our county indigent care programs and hospital emergency rooms. Additionally because the current leadership in Texas is actively working to undermine the ACA, the insurance marketplace is unstable and that instability results in higher health insurance premiums for all of us.
The primary care needs of the low-income population in our area are currently only partially met.
Investing strategically in the health care infrastructure, including expanding funding to graduate medical education and residency training programs, and training more health care professionals like advanced practice nurses will save money and help ensure a healthy workforce for our communities.
In recent sessions, the Texas Legislature has slashed funding for preventive services for women. Family planning clinics have closed all over the state as a result, leaving thousands of uninsured women with no resource for primary and preventive services such as cancer screening, STD diagnosis and treatment, and birth control. Besides the health benefits of such services, they also save the state millions in Medicaid expenses. In addition to slashing the family planning services budget, Texas was excluded from the federal Women’s Health Program because the Republican led legislature refused to comply with federal rules, turning away millions of dollars in federal matching money. This program is a no-brainer, with a $9 federal match to every $1 Texas spends. Ignoring the basic health care needs of Texas women and children is poor public health policy.
It’s been well publicized that the Texas maternal mortality rate is unacceptably high.
The causes of this heartbreaking statistic are not completely clear but we do know that after the original Women’s Health Program that allowed women to choose providers such as Planned Parenthood was shuttered, Medicaid births soared in Texas. Women who previously had access to family planning and wellness exams were left without that care and were not prepared for pregnancy or the birth of a new child.
Finally, I understand that a medical license and a lab coat are meaningless in the public affairs arena if partisan pressures preempt or, worse, compromise medical judgment. I am committed to ensuring that physician autonomy and independent medical judgment is what determines standard of care rather than politics, bureaucracy and corporate interests.