Access to healthcare is a fundamental right—one that too many of our fellow North Texans have been denied for too long. According to the Census Bureau, nearly 1 in 5 Dallas County residents—over 500,000 people—lack health coverage, and Texas has the highest uninsured rate in the nation. Many North Texans who do have insurance still must contend with high premiums, high deductibles, high drug prices, and huge out-of-pocket costs.
Despite the progress we have made under the ACA, for millions of Texans access to healthcare is still out of reach. And, Pete Sessions and Donald Trump have repeatedly and intentionally worked to sabotage the ACA, worsening out-of-control healthcare costs. As a direct result of their actions, estimates show that premiums in 2019 will increase by almost $3,500 for a North Texan family of four, nearly $3,800 for a North Texan couple over the age of 55, and over $1,000 for an individual 40-year-old. We can, and must, do better in this country. Healthcare isn’t a luxury item you can go without—it’s a matter of life and death. We must address the current healthcare crisis in Texas by expanding coverage through competition and lower costs and tackling the cost of prescription drugs so that no North Texan has to ration their medications.
In Congress, I will work to:
Protect and expand our healthcare markets: The ACA was an enormous step forward in expanding access to healthcare and ending abusive practices by insurance companies. No longer can insurers treat you differently because of a pre-existing condition or impose an annual or lifetime cap, and parents can now keep their children on their health insurance plans until they’re 26. Pete Sessions voted to repeal the ACA and go back to the days when insurance companies could deny coverage to the estimated 324,300 North Texans who have a preexisting condition. I will support efforts to expand coverage and protections under the ACA, and oppose attempts to undo these important achievements, including President Trump and Pete Sessions’ efforts to sabotage it.
Lower the cost of prescription drugs by allowing Medicare to negotiate directly with pharmaceutical companies: Current federal law prohibits Medicare from directly negotiating drug prices. This policy has been good for giant pharmaceutical companies, but it has not served the American people. Medicare is the largest buyer in the prescription drug market, accounting for nearly one third of all pharmaceutical buying. We should allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices directly, which would leverage its enormous purchasing power and lower the costs of prescription drugs for all Americans.
Create an option to buy into Medicare: In order to expand coverage and lower costs, we must introduce more competition into the healthcare market by offering every American an option to buy into Medicare. Medicare’s low overhead costs and established provider networks can form the basis for an affordable, quality alternative that will compete with private insurers, driving down costs for everyone. Under this plan, existing sources of health insurance, including employer-provided insurance, will not be disturbed, and North Texans will be able to choose whether they want to keep their current insurance or buy into Medicare. This approach could also expand upon the services that Medicare already provides by covering areas that Medicare currently does not, such as pediatrics and maternity care.
Protect and expand Medicaid: Medicaid provides critical healthcare to children, the disabled, and the elderly. In 2016 alone, Texas received over $23 billion in federal Medicaid funding for these at-risk populations. This funding, which Pete Sessions voted to cut, is a lifeline for many Texas families that I will work to protect in Congress. I will also seek to expand Medicaid, which could result in 2.5 million more Texans with healthcare coverage.