TOP Statement on House GOP Health Care Repeal Vote

AHCA

The following statement is from Michelle Tremillo, executive director of Texas Organizing Project, in response to U.S. House Republicans passing the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which is projected to increase the amount of uninsured Americans by more than 20 million:

“Today’s vote will come back to haunt Republicans in Congress. Neither they nor their constituents know how many people this bill actually insures, nor how much it will cost. This is not how you fix our nation’s health care system; this is how you destroy it and hurt millions in the process.

“Not only will the American Health Care Act (AHCA) increase the cost of insurance for millions of Americans, it will disproportionately impact people of color, those over age 50, and families living on a tight budget. In addition, this bill allows states to strip protections for pre-existing conditions, a life-saving measure for many Texas and American families.

“After passage of this shameful bill in the House, the health and wellbeing of millions now lies with the Senate. We will continue to voice our opposition to this cruel excuse for a health care plan, and urge others to do the same.”

###

Texas Organizing Project organizes Black and Brown communities in Texas’ three largest counties with the goal of transforming Texas into a state where working people of color have the power and representation they deserve. For more information, visit organizetexas.org.

Reproductive rights activists rally, lobby for Planned Parenthood

PP Capitol rally

A congregation of pink shirts, posters and “pussy hats” swarmed the state Capitol Wednesday in support of Planned Parenthood, protesting more than 40 anti-abortion bills in the Texas Legislature.

In an interview with The Daily Texan, former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis said defunding the organization would cut crucial health services for women beyond abortion.

“There is no state funding that goes to provide abortion care,” Davis said. “We are talking about taking money away from that very valuable breast cancer, uterine cancer screens that they do, the diabetes screens that they provide, the pap smears, the birth control pills, the IUDs.”

Some of the protested bills had hearings during the rally. One of the most contentious was House Bill 434, which protects doctors from legal action if they do not inform women of potential birth defects or disabilities during pregnancy. A companion Senate bill passed two weeks ago and now awaits House approval.

State House Rep. Ron Simmons, R-Carrollton, authored HB 434. Simmons told The Dallas Morning News that the bill mainly intends to prevent doctors from being unfairly sued, while admitting it may also help decrease abortions in Texas.

“This is a pro-life bill that is really a bill to protect our doctors in cases where, for whatever reason, they didn’t see a disability, and to keep them from being sued,” Simmons said. “There may have been a couple of cases filed on this in the past, and it hasn’t been something that’s been a rampant problem here in Texas. This preempts there being a problem, we hope.”

Undeclared freshman Katerina Wittliff said she disagrees with HB 434 because its overall premise raises ethical concerns.

“It’s wrong for a doctor to hide the health of the baby from parents, because not only do they have the right to know, but they need to prepare if their child is born sick,” Wittliff said. “It’s not only about abortions.”

Brianna Brown, deputy director of the Texas Organizing Project, said defunding the organization disproportionately impacts women of color because they are less likely to own health insurance and need easier access to female health services.

“In Texas, 70 percent of people without health insurance are of color,” Brown said. “No matter how much money you have in your pocket, no matter what zip code you live in … we have been fighting for all Texans to be able to go to doctors.”

This story originally appeared 4/6/2017 in The Daily Texan.

Texas coalition worries about tinkering with Medicaid

TOP healthcare

AUSTIN (KXAN) — As GOP leaders unveil and move their replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act through Congress, millions of Texans will be watching. Hundreds showed up Monday to protest changes to Medicaid by making it a “block grant,” giving state lawmakers money to implement health insurance for poor and disabled Texans without strings from Washington attached.

A coalition of several groups called “Cover Texas Now” rallied against several new ideas for healthcare. Kate Robinson from Austin fears changes to state-run insurance for poor and disabled Texans.

“I think everyone should care about it because healthcare effects us all,” said Robinson.

Her son was born with a disabled airway; speaking and eating didn’t come easy. Current Medicaid rules allowed her son to have healthcare coverage. If Washington goes with “block grants” — giving Texas the money without specific requirements — she worries her son would be left out.

“I honestly can’t even consider that because in my mind it would mean utter destruction for my whole family,” said Robinson.

“Republicans are just as compassionate as Democrats. We care and we want people to be covered,” said Michael Joyce from the Texas Republican Party. He says a block grant would allow lawmakers to match unique programs to uniquely Texan problems.

“It’s always a good thing when you don’t have to take cues from Washington, and we like to do things a certain way down in Texas,” said Joyce.

As many expect changes in the coming days, more than a million newly covered Texans — and four million Texans still without coverage — will be watching.

We reached out to Congressman Kevin Brady’s Ways and Means Committee to find out what day the process would begin. A committee staffer told us he was instructed to direct us to their website. That website did not have an answer. We reached out to a higher position in the office, and are waiting to hear back.

This story originally appeared 3/6/2017 on KXAN.