Let the People Vote! Texans Want to Vote to Expand Medicaid

Texas Rally for Medicaid Expansion on March 4 at the Texas State Capitol

Please join us at Let The People Vote! Texas Rally for Medicaid Expansion on Monday, March 4 at 10 a.m. at the Texas Capitol!


Need a free ride from Houston, Katy, Dallas or San Antonio? Sign up here!

Sign up to volunteer at the rally here.


On Monday we’ll deliver a message that Texans are DONE waiting on state leaders who have refused for SIX YEARS to expand Medicaid.

It’s time for state leaders to get out of the way and give Texans the chance to vote on expanding Medicaid.

Why is this important?

  • Texas has the highest number and rate of uninsured people of any state in the country
  • Nearly 11% of Texas children are uninsured
  • We’re one of only 14 states that hasn’t accepted Medicaid expansion
  • Medicaid expansion could help 1 million uninsured Texans get health coverage
  • Two-thirds of Texans want the state to expand Medicaid

We face crises in maternal and infant health, access to mental health treatment, the opioid epidemic, rural hospital closures, and families’ skyrocketing medical bills. We want our vote!

We hope to see you on Monday at the Capitol:

LET THE PEOPLE VOTE!

TEXAS RALLY FOR MEDICAID EXPANSION

MONDAY, MARCH 4TH, 2019 AT 10 AM

SOUTH STEPS OF THE TEXAS CAPITOL

AUSTIN, TEXAS

Take Action at #txlege: Week of Feb. 25

Bills are being referred to committees, and hearings are getting underway, especially in the House. Here are some bills and hearings of interest this week. Be sure to jump down for our weekly feature on Public Education bills, too.

There are also many lobby days and rallies over the next several weeks. You can view our full list of rallies and lobby days (updated as we learn about new ones) here.

HOUSE

COMMITTEE: International Relations & Economic Development

TIME & DATE: 10:00 AM, Monday, February 25, 2019

PLACE: E2.014

Several bills on protecting workers from wage theft and wage discrimination, as well as a bill on raising the minimum wage in Texas to $15 from $7.25.

 

COMMITTEE: Criminal Jurisprudence

TIME & DATE: 2:00 PM, Monday, February 25, 2019

PLACE: E2.012

Includes HB 595, which increases the penalty on individuals who make false reports to law enforcement because of bias or prejudice.

 

COMMITTEE: Human Services

TIME & DATE: 8:00 AM, Tuesday, February 26, 2019

PLACE: E2.030

HB 285 is an attempt to add even more stringent “work requirements” on SNAP benefits for working adults without children in the home. Texas already has stronger work requirements than required by federal law, and the proposed bill would prevent the state from being able to waive time limits, even in emergencies like hurricanes, or for former foster children.

 

COMMITTEE: Homeland Security & Public Safety

TIME & DATE 8:00 AM, Wednesday, February 27, 2019

PLACE: E2.016

Includes HB 238, which would prevent law enforcement from enforcing any federal gun law that is stricter than state gun laws.

 

COMMITTEE: Redistricting

TIME & DATE: 10:30 AM or upon final adjourn./recess, Thursday, February 28, 2019

PLACE: JHR 140

The committee will hold an organizational hearing on the topic “2021 Redistricting: Data and Tools” with invited testimony* from the following entities:

Texas Legislative Council

U.S. Census Bureau

*invited testimony only

 

SENATE

COMMITTEE: Finance

TIME & DATE: 10:00 AM, Monday, February 25, 2019

PLACE: E1.036 (Finance Room)

SB 3, Relating to additional funding to school districts for classroom teacher salaries.

See the hearing notice for details on giving testimony

________________________

Contributed by Felicia Miyakawa, Special Education Advocate

Tuesday, Feb. 26, will be another long day for the Texas House Public Education Committee. 21 bills are on the schedule! (See the full list here.) They are set to begin at 10:30 AM or whenever the House adjourns.

From my perspective as a Special Education Advocate, two bills bear mention this week:

HB 239 will allow social workers to serve students in schools, which is a step forward towards wrap-around services, making sure that there’s a network of care for all students who need help in and out of school.

HB 455 mandates that every school district

  1. develop a policy about the a minimum number of unstructured playtime (recess) minutes per week AND whether or not removal from recess can be used as a punishment; and
  2. review these policies at least every five years to be consistent with local school health advisory councils.

Why this matters: Despite consistent data showing that kids learn more and retain more when they have sufficient unstructured play time during their day, schools have moved towards restricting free play time into order to focus more on academics.

Similarly, we have years of data and research showing that kids with certain neurotypes–such as ADHD–need more movement in order to focus. Yet schools still resort to punishing kids for excess movement, talking, fidgeting, lack of focus, not finishing work, etc., by taking away recess. Even though both federal and state law make clear that positive behavior supports should be in place, taking away recess as punishment is still happening at many schools.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

  1. If any of these issues are important to you personally, consider going to the capitol to give testimony. If you can get to the Capitol but don’t want to give testimony, please know that you can still weigh in. There are computer kiosks located close to the hearing rooms where you can register and indicate whether or not you support a bill and whether or not you want to testify. You can hang out and watch the hearing or leave. This is a great option for folks who don’t enjoy public speaking.
  2. For everyone else, please call or email YOUR representative to discuss your stance on these bills. This is especially helpful if your representative is on the Public Education committee (Dan Huberty, Diego Bernal, Alma Allen, Steve Allison, Trent Ashby, Keith Bell, Harold Dutton, Mary González, Ken King, Morgan Meyer, Scott Sanford, James Talarico, and Gary VanDeaver).

*****Please tell your representatives: Schools should never take away recess, especially from struggling learners!

Remember: you can watch a live stream of committee hearings. Bookmark these links:
House committee hearings

Senate committee hearings

Take Action at #txlege: Week of Feb. 11

Contributed by Felicia Miyakawa, Special Education Advocate

For those of you trying to keep up with #txlege, here are some action items regarding special education and medically fragile kids/adults.

This week there will be several hearings about funding and appropriations. For those of you who have less familiarity with these issues, please know that we need you to amplify our voices.

1. The Senate Finance Committee will be meeting about education matters in SB 1 on Monday morning at 10. SB 1 is the Senate’s budget bill. You can watch the hearing here once it’s live.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: the current bill does not provide for the $50 million identified as necessary to fix the Special Education plan TEA has already laid out (aka, the Corrective Action Plan), an action that is required because of a Federal Department of Education investigation. Public testimony is allowed at this hearing for a maximum of 3 minutes. Written testimony will be accepted. Please see the hearing notice for details.

2. House Appropriations Article II subcommittee will meet Monday morning at 8 to discuss Health and Human Services. You should be able to watch the hearing here once it’s live.

KEY ISSUES HERE: currently there is a 10+ year waitlist for kids with disabilities who need state resources. We need HHS to fund the “waivers” so we can get these kids off waitlists and get them the support they need. Public testimony will be allowed at this hearing for a maximum of 3 minutes. The hearing notice does not specify anything regarding written testimony.

3. House Appropriations will meet again on Thursday at 8, and one of the topics that day is Early Childhood Intervention. Over the past few sessions we’ve had HUGE cuts to these programs, and many rural providers have stopped providing services. We have huge gaps in service now, to say the least. Public testimony will be heard at this hearing, too. Please see the hearing notice for details. Watch here.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:
1. If any of these issues are important to you personally, consider going to the capitol to give testimony.
2. If you would like to submit written testimony and can’t get to the Capitol, let me know and I can try to connect you with someone who can help you.
3. For everyone else, please call members of the above committees to support these funding needs.

House Appropriations Article II Subcommittee members

Senate Finance Committee members (includes Watson and Campbell from Central Texas districts)

 

Healthcare Issues at the 86th Texas Legislature – VIDEO

On Thursday, January 24, we hosted a briefing with Laura Guerra-Cardus from Children’s Defense Fund-Texas and the Cover Texas Now coalition to hear about a host of healthcare issues at the #txlege. If you want to catch up on these issues, the slides and video of the presentation are available. We’re planning a mid-session catch-up presentation to check in on how our priorities are progressing during session.

Sign up to stay on top of the latest at the Lege with the Indivisible Austin #txlege newsletter

Full Briefing Video

Presentation Slides

 

 

 

Call Congress to Protect SNAP on May 8

What: Call-In Day to Protect the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

When: Tuesday, May 8

​Who: Call your member of Congress at 888-398-8702

Please share this action alert widely and use the downloadable social media graphics from Children’s Defense Fund-Texas below 

Adapted from CPPP‘s SNAP action alert:
About 3.8 million Texans — kids, the elderly, people with disabilities, veterans and workers who don’t earn enough to feed their families — turn to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly “food stamps”) to help buy food every month. It is the nation’s most effective anti-hunger program.

Now, SNAP is at risk because of proposals in the Farm Bill, the legislation that includes this vital program. The Farm Bill would make it harder for millions of working mothers to put food on the table by taking away or cutting their food benefits. In all, the proposal would cut the actual money families receive to buy food by more than $17 billion and instead would spend billions setting up a new system of untested work programs and requirements with punishing penalties.

RSVP on Facebook to join the National Call-in Day and let Congress know you oppose cuts to the SNAP program

Call your member of Congress on May 8 at 888-398-8702

Sample script/talking points:

  1. Identify yourself as a constituent calling about pending legislation.
  2. Tell them you want your representative to oppose the current Farm Bill, because it would:
    1. Cut food assistance for struggling families in your community, and
    2. Misuse those same funds to expand a bureaucracy that sells the promise of work, but won’t deliver results.
  3. Give a concrete example from your experience to demonstrate why you care.
  4. Provide your full mailing address and ask to receive a response from your member of Congress.
  5. Thank the staff member!

 

Right click to download and share these images on social media:

Protect SNAP national call-in day

Protect SNAP national call-in day

Protect SNAP national call-in day

Protect SNAP national call-in day

OMG We are SO Tired of This Repeal BS! Here’s What We Need to Do

We know you are tired of beating back health care repeal bills. We are, too. We’ve been doing this for months, and it doesn’t get any easier.

The only saving grace is that the the Senate Republicans can only attempt to repeal the ACA through the gimmick called reconciliation until September 30. (And really, it’s September 29, since the Senate won’t be voting on Yom Kippur.) That’s only eight days away!

The time is short, so we have to work fast! Here’s what you can do right now to help stop this final attempt at repeal:

    1. Call Sens. Cornyn and Cruz at 202-224-3121 and tell them:
      My name is [Name] and I am one of your constituents. I want Senator [Cruz/Cornyn] to oppose Graham-Cassidy because it will take healthcare away from millions including children, people with disabilities seniors and even victims of natural disasters like Harvey and Irma. (If you also have a personal story to share, it really helps.)
    2. Sign up for a timeslot in our call relay! The goal is to get enough people signed up every day to make calls all day long so the DC office phones never stop ringing. This page will reset each day until we #KillTheBill. (You can still call whenever you want!)
    3. If you’ve called both Sens. Cornyn and Cruz and you’re asking yourself: what more can I do? How can I influence Republicans in red states who may be on the fence? You can sign up to call constituents in the target states and ask them to call THEIR senators!
    4. Join us this Sunday, Sept 24 at 8:30 a.m., for a Public Square Town Hall to take a last stand against ACA repeal and Medicaid cuts! Sens. Cruz and Cornyn will be just steps away from our event, speaking at the Texas Tribune Festival!
    5. Sign up here to get email and occasional text alerts for urgent actions.

BONUS: Submit comments to the Senate Finance Committee by Monday at noon! 

Thank you for supporting Texans who depend on the ACA and Medicaid for their healthcare!

We’re Showing Up for Texas Today

Today we have a message for the president. Texans are hurting from Hurricane Harvey, and it will take us years to recover. While it will be some time before the full damage estimates and economic impact of the storm are assessed, we can be sure that our great state’s recovery will take a long time. But we’re Texans, and we’re not afraid of the hard work ahead of us.

Texas has never seen a storm like Harvey. It is epochal.

On his Texas visit today the president will likely take advantage of some photo opportunities, and speak some self-described perfect words. He will no doubt make promises and try to burnish his presidential image. But the real measure of his response will not be if he appears more presidential, but rather his administration’s accomplishments in the weeks, months, and years ahead. Will that response tackle not only the misfortunes of the affluent in this disaster, but also the misfortunes of those his administration has habitually targeted from its start?

It is difficult to reconcile the forthcoming pledges to rebuild impacted areas of Texas with the president’s pardon of Joe Arpaio as the storm was bearing down on Houston (for ratings, he said), his refusal to close border patrol checkpoints on evacuation routes out of South Texas, his destruction of some of our state’s most treasured natural gems to make way for his border wall, and his imminent repeal of DACA. That’s why we’re showing up for Texas today during the president’s visit.

There has never ever been a natural disaster in the U.S. during which public officials have had to clarify numerous times that those seeking shelter from the storm and  flooding will not be deported.

The test is simple. Will this administration start to take the threat of climate change seriously and begin tackling the technological and infrastructure challenges necessary to reduce the impact of future disasters like this one? Will this administration make sure that the poorest communities and communities of color – which suffer disparate impacts of natural disasters – recover from this storm? Or will those communities be offered only platitudes and empty gestures? Time will tell, but the recent actions of this administration make clear its steadfast refusal to extend the same consideration to those communities that it extends to the well-to-do. We are showing up today to make sure the administration knows we will not allow these concerns to be swept under the rug in the usual post-disaster niceties.

We also cannot forget that many other policies this administration pursues have negative impacts on our state, and when combined with the devastation from Harvey, further harm our state and our people.

The proposed border wall means Texans will lose their land through eminent domain, and fragile ecological regions will be decimated; even our own Senator John Cornyn’s recent border “security” bill doesn’t include funding for the president’s vision of this folly.

The nation’s largest inland port, Laredo, is on the front lines of the president’s Twitter war against against NAFTA. In 2015, Texas exported nearly $100 billion in goods to Mexico, and some 382,000 Texas jobs are linked to trade with Mexico. Targeting NAFTA hurts Texans and hurts our economy.

The president’s intention to rescind DACA, which is expected to happen this week, will have a disproportionate impact in Texas. Of the nearly 800,000 young adults whose DACA status has been approved, more than 25 percent of them live in Texas. They may have come to the U.S. as undocumented children through no fault of their own, but they have followed specific requirements to remain in the U.S. legally. As a result, they have graduated from colleges, started Texas businesses, bought homes, and built lives in Texas. For that they are being used to score political points by an administration determined to take a hard line on all immigrants regardless of status. He has used them as scapegoats. He lies about crime statistics to stigmatize a vulnerable group, and to stoke fear and hatred of all immigrants.

Trump’s policies will harm the Texas economy, which will be deeply strained during the long road of recovery from Harvey. We are already gearing up for the budget fights in Congress that could stifle the emergency relief we so desperately need.

Harvey has to be our top priority right now, as we anticipate thousands of evacuees coming to Austin. We have been and will continue supporting the rescuers and aid givers who need our volunteer hours and our financial and material assistance. But today we also need to send a message: Texans are great, resilient people, and we will do all we can to protect our state from policies that harm our residents and their livelihoods. 

Indivisible Austin
Wilco Indivisible
Indivisible TXLege
TX10 Indivisible
TX17 Indivisible
TX21 Indivisible
TX35 Indivisible

 

Trump, Congress Considering More Damaging New Twist on ACA Repeal: Texas Implications

This is a cross-post by Stacey Pogue of Center for Public Policy Priorities

Media reports indicate that President Trump and Congressional Republicans are working to revive their bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with the same harmful provisions plus two new ones. States would be able to opt out of “essential health benefits” and the requirement that health plans not charge people more because they are sick.

This new approach, if adopted, would completely undermine the popular ACA provision ensuring that people with pre-existing conditions can’t be denied coverage. It is meaningless if you are technically offered coverage by an insurer if the plan doesn’t cover your health conditions, or it is sold at an astronomical price that only the wealthiest can afford. This approach will make cheaper, bare-bones coverage available to healthy individuals, but it will prevent people who actually need health care from getting good and affordable coverage.

Essential Health Benefits

“Essential health benefits” are the minimum standards for coverage that must be included in certain types of health insurance – plans sold to small employers and in the “individual market,” – plans sold directly to consumers who do not have job-based coverage.  Essential health benefits include basic and necessary categories of care as: hospitalization; maternity and newborn care; mental health and substance use disorder care; prescription drugs; and emergency room services.

If a state opts out of essential health benefit protections, insurers will once again get to pick and choose what to cover. Insurers will drop comprehensive benefit to help attract the healthiest (and cheapest to cover) customers. Benefits that will most likely be cut back are: maternity services; prescription drugs; mental health and substance use disorder services; rehabilitative care; and pediatric dental and vision care. Families who lack coverage for critical services will once again bear the full financial weight for illness and injury, and many will be unable to afford needed health care.

Before essential health benefit protections were in place, coverage in the individual market was much more limited than job-based coverage.

  • In Texas before the ACA, there were no policies for sale in the individual market that included maternity services and maternity was not always included in small employer plans. The average charge for pregnancy care and delivery for women with private insurance is more than $32,000 for a vaginal birth and $51,000 for a caesarean section without complications. Few families could absorb these enormous costs if insurance failed to include maternity coverage.
  • Mental health coverage also was often excluded, or else very limited. Nationally, before the ACA, 34 percent of individual market consumers did not have coverage for substance abuse services, and 18 percent did not have coverage for mental health services.
  • Nationally, before the ACA, one of five people enrolled in the individual market had no prescription drug coverage, compared with just one in twenty in the employer market.
  • Coverage of rehabilitative services, particularly important to children who need to learn developmentally appropriate skills was often limited before essential health benefit protections.

Community Rating

One of the most popular and well-known provisions of the ACA is that people with pre-existing conditions can’t be denied health coverage. Mentioned less often, but just as important, is that people with pre-existing conditions also cannot be charged more because they are sick. This is called “community rating” in insurance jargon, and it means that everyone pays the average price regardless of health conditions. If the ACA repeal bill ends community rating, it will resurrect a historic form of discrimination. People with pre-existing conditions will be unable to afford premiums, even if they are technically offered a plan.

Access isn’t the same as coverage. You may technically have access to a Ferrari, but that doesn’t mean you can afford to buy one.

In Texas, we know a bit about how dramatically higher prices can climb without community rating. Before the ACA, small employers technically had to be offered a plan even if they had sick employees, but there were few restrictions on how much groups could be charged. The Texas Department of Insurance collected data on both the average per-person premium charged to small employers and the maximum per-person premium charged to small employers. In 2006, insurers generally reported average per-person premiums of $3,000-$4,000, and maximum per-person premiums of $20,000-$30,000. One insurer reported an average per-person premium of $2,700 and a maximum possible per-person premium of $62,000. Our history in Texas shows clearly that a guaranteed “offer” of coverage with no pricing protections is essentially meaningless.

Return to the bad old days

The state options approach being discussed in Congress is a bad deal for Texans. It will place coverage out-of-reach for those who need it most.

Week of Action on ACA Repeal aka NO #Trumpcare

Update: Please RSVP for our Tuesday night conference call, where we’ll discuss ACA repeal

The Affordable Care Act faces a critical repeal vote this Thursday.

This is a do-or-die moment for the ACA. Exactly seven years to the day of the Affordable Care Act becoming law, the House of Representatives will be voting to repeal it and replace it with Trumpcare—a plan that would lead to 24 million Americans losing their health care.

We’ve put together some resources to help you speak with your member of Congress or their staff about the harm ACA repeal will do to Texans.

This week we need to call our members of Congress and demand that they reject Trumpcare.

Here’s a script:

I’m calling to ask Congressman _____ to oppose Trumpcare. According to the CBO, Trumpcare will result in 24 million Americans losing their health care over the next 10 years. It will mean higher premiums for many Americans, worse coverage options, and even millions of people with employer coverage will lose their coverage as a result of this bill. Trumpcare also cuts $880 billion in funding for Medicaid, which will result in 14 million Americans from working families losing their coverage. It does all of this in order to give a major tax cut to the wealthiest Americans, insurance companies, drug companies and other corporations like medical device companies. This is unacceptable.

If the staffer says the CBO score is bad: That is not true. The CBO is a well-respected, nonpartisan office that does cost estimates of major bills to make sure that the public and Members of Congress understand the full impact of bills like Trumpcare. Republicans and Democrats alike have relied on CBO estimates for decades and so there is no reason to believe its analysis is wrong. The CBO score is clear in that millions of Americans will lose coverage because of Trumpcare.

Will Congressman _______ commit, publicly, to voting against Trumpcare?

Use the following to add more local detail to your phone calls and emails:

How many Texans will lose their health insurance by 2026 as a result of Trumpcare, and how much more will it cost them?

Use this interactive map from the Center for American Progress to find out.

How many will lose insurance in your Congressional district by 2026 as a result of Trumpcare?

Download this table from the Center for American Progress to find out.

What’s the true cost of Trumpcare in your Congressional district?

Find your district’s fact sheet in this memo from the Democratic staff of the Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on the impact of the potential ACA repeal on each of the 435 congressional districts and the District of Columbia. (These numbers do not agree exactly with the previous table, likely due to differing methodologies.)

How will tax credits change for people in your county?

While some younger people may do slightly better under Trumpcare, costs will skyrocket for Texans in their late fifties and early sixties. Use this interactive map from the Kasier Family Foundation to find out.

If you want a more in-depth exploration from very smart policy wonks of all the horrible things this bill will do, listen to last week’s emergency ACA call with Indivisible, the Center for American Progress, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and Families USA.

Organize a vigil at your member of Congress’ office

Millions of lives hang in the balance. The House vote this coming week is the first step towards enactment of this devastating Trumpcare bill. But you and your Indivisible group have the power to stop this.

Centex Action Network in Waco has organized vigils at Rep. Flores’ office Wednesday and Thursday nights this week, and they invite Indivisible groups from across Texas and the nation to hold their own vigils at their member’s offices this week.

UPDATE: Many more vigils are happening!

Is your group holding a vigil? Let us know and we’ll add it to the community calendar.

CBO Score on repeal is out P.S. we’re all screwed

The Congressional Budget Office score is out, and #Trumpcare will throw 14 million people off insurance by 2018, rising to 24 million by 2026. All for a savings on the deficit  $337 billion over 10 years (which is virtually nothing–the US budget for 2015 was $3.8 TRILLION).
 
Per the CBO:
  • Premiums would rise by 15 to 20 percent in the near term
  • 7 million people would lose their employer coverage
  • Increased deductibles and out-of-pocket costs
  • 25% cut to Medicaid by 2026 (still affects states like Texas that didn’t expand Medicaid)
  • The monthly health insurance premium for a single 64-year-old who makes $26,500 would jump more than 700% (from $1,700 to $14,600)
 
You know what to do! Start making those calls NOW:
 
Sen. Cornyn, 512-469-6034
Sen. Cruz, 512-916-5834
Rep. McCaul, 512-473-2357
Rep. Flores, 512-373-3378
Rep. Smith, 512-912-7508
Rep. Williams, 512-473-8910
Rep. Carter, 512-246-1600
Rep. Doggett, 512-916-5921