Who we are
In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, healthcare is a priority in the minds of U.S. citizens. Texas is the state with the second highest number of coronavirus cases in the U.S., beating entire countries such as Germany, Mexico, and Canada. The number of cases in Texas puts pressure on the 4.5 million people without health insurance who have the virus or are at risk for the virus.
The loss of jobs during the pandemic brought with it the loss of employer-based healthcare. During the past year, millions more Texans discovered that the state of Texas does not include any childless adult in its Medicaid health coverage who is not pregnant or not disabled. An adult with a child living at home can be covered if s/he makes less than $250 a month (this is not a typo).
Expanding Medicaid provides adult Texans making less than $17,000 a year comprehensive health coverage. That comprehensive health coverage for approximately 1.2 million Texans would cost LESS (net) than what the state currently spends (see Impact of Medicaid Expansion on the State Budget in Texas, September 2020 – Episcopal Health Foundation). The “economic effects (on the local Texas economy) for the 2022-23 biennium would include gains of $45.3 billion in gross product, $29.4 billion in personal income, and almost 461,700 job-years of employment over the biennium, including multiplier effects” (see Economic and Fiscal Benefits to Texas of Accessing Additional Federal Funds for Health Insurance Expansion, December 2020 – Episcopal Health Foundation).
It’s important to note that Texas would save state budget dollars at the 90% federal match level that has been in place for almost a decade. The legislation just signed by the President incentivizes expansion of Medicaid by providing an additional 5% federal match for 2 years.
Since Texas provides Medicaid indigent health care under Section 1115, which relies on County property taxes as well as state budget dollars, expanding Medicaid will save County property taxes, too.
If you would like to support people at risk in the era of health emergencies, join the healthcare huddle today!
What we do
The healthcare huddle’s main focus this year is to improve the state of the healthcare system in Texas, a state ranked as the 4th worst healthcare provider in the United States. Joining us in this huddle would help us lead our state towards a better healthcare future after the 87th legislative session! We are currently focusing on three major agenda items:
- Medicaid expansion: Medicaid is a federal/state program in which the state sets the eligibility rules. Federal law provides a 90% federal funding share to those states that expand their Medicaid eligibility to 133% of the federal poverty rate, or approximately $17,000 income per year. In Texas currently, adult Texans parents with a child living at home, who are not pregnant and not disabled, may earn up to $250 a month (~$3,000 a YEAR) to be eligible for Medicaid. If you have not child living at home, you are not eligible for Medicaid at all. Texas has been operating its Medicaid program under an 1115 waiver, which provides for an approximate 60% federal match and shares 40% of the cost with state and county government. County property taxes fund the county’s share. Expanding Medicaid would reduce the burden on Texas County budgets for indigent care and could reduce property taxes.
- Maternal Mortality: 50% of Texan pregnancies are treated under Medicaid. The pregnant woman’s coverage extends 3 months after pregnancy and since parents making more than $250 a month are not eligible for coverage; the woman is dropped from coverage. Texan women are dying at an alarming rate – higher than any other state in the country. Extending Medicaid coverage to twelve months after pregnancy will save lives.
- Menstrual equity: What is often overlooked as a serious healthcare issue is the issue of menstruation, more specifically the effects of policy on menstruaters in marginalized or impoverished communities. The healthcare huddle plans to reduce period poverty in Texas by removing the tampon tax so that people who cannot afford the tax on period products may be able to have better access to them.
We are looking towards expanding our efforts to different agendas besides the ones mentioned, so if you would like us to tackle a specific issue, our huddle would be glad to consider it and take it up as a priority!
Bills to support/reject
Here is a list of bills that the healthcare huddle is planning to support or reject. These bills either fall under the three main huddle agendas or in similar areas. This list is what we are currently focusing on, but if you want to support or reject a bill you feel very passionately about in this space, we will try our best to include it in our plan of action for this session!
- HB 509 (Beckley) (support): Relating to the expansion of eligibility for Medicaid to all persons who apply for that assistance and for whom federal matching funds are available.
- HB 389 (identical: HB 398, HB 1730) / SB 38 (identical: SB 119) WITH HJR 9 (identical: HJR 23, HJR 24, HJR 86) / SJR 11 (identical: SJR 14, SJR 15) (support): Relating to the expansion of eligibility for Medicaid to all persons who apply for that assistance and for whom federal matching funds are available – this law takes effect only if the constitutional amendment is approved by voters.
- HB 133 (identical: HB 98, HB 107) / SB 141 (identical: SB 1187) (support): This bill requires the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to continue to provide Medicaid to women enrolled during a pregnancy for at least 12 months after delivery or miscarriage.
- HB 3871 / SB 117 (support): Relating to the development and implementation of the Live Well Texas program under the Section 1115 waiver.
- HB 321 (Howard) (support): Relating to a sales and use tax exemption for certain feminine hygiene products.
Please join our huddle today and help make Texas a better healthcare state!