Texas Leaders Recognize Health Care Crisis but Fail to Prioritize Expansion Solution

Texas Capitol

For Immediate Release: April 7, 2021

Contact: Stephanie Cavalier 

Austin – Today, House Speaker Phelan and a bipartisan group of legislators held a press conference to highlight Texas health care priorities. Following the press conference, Laura Guerra-Cardus, Deputy-Director of the Children’s Defense Fund and a leader of the SickofitTX Campaign, issued the following statement:

“We are tremendously excited that Texas leaders are responding to the overwhelming calls of Texans to address our growing health care crisis. However, glaringly absent from this conversation was the single most effective strategy Texas leaders can leverage to support healthy Texans: coverage expansion.  

We are glad to see Speaker Phelan and Texas House members prioritizing health care access for women (HB 133) and children (HB 290). Unfortunately, the House health care priorities fail to provide relief for other hard-working Texans in our low-income workforce who can’t afford health coverage. Texas has both the highest rate and number of uninsured people in the nation. If Texas fails to expand coverage this session, over 1.4 million Texans including essential workers in child care, home health, service industry and many other essential jobs will remain unable to access health care or to financially protect themselves and their families. Texas cannot recover while Texans are not covered.”

Texas leaders have an opportunity to do the right thing for over a million Texans in passing the bipartisan Live Well Texas bills HB 3871 and SB 117. The legislation would draw down billions in federal funding to provide low – income Texans with access to affordable coverage. We call on Speaker Phelan to advance the Live Well Texas bills through the legislature to support these hard working Texans. We are eager and ready to work with Texas leaders to ensure that legislation expanding coverage to low-wage Texans becomes law. 

Stories from the Coverage Gap

The exclusion of coverage expansion from the House’s health care plan, along with the silence of the Texas Senate, Lt. Gov, and the Governor on the matter leaves our family members, friends, and neighbors like Sorayah, Trish, Amber and Gloria in the coverage gap with nowhere to turn to access health care. We urge Speaker Phelan and the Texas legislature to act now to expand coverage. These Texans cannot wait another 2 years to access health care.

Sorayah is a young adult with a mental health condition whose access to health coverage is a lifeline and could disappear at any moment. Sorayah is a wonderful 19-year-old with a mental health condition who has only been able to stay on Medicaid because of the ongoing public health emergency (PHE). As soon as the PHE ends, she will fall into the coverage gap because Texas has not expanded Medicaid. She is terrified of losing her coverage at any moment and along with it her medicine and therapy that allow her to stay healthy to get a job and go to college.  

Trish is a single mom and essential healthcare worker with a life-threatening chronic illness. Like many essential health workers, Trish cares for others while being unable to access health care herself.  Not having health coverage is terrifying for her because the pressure to delay care could cost her life.She worries that her inability to access healthcare could lead to her son, who has the same chronic illness, having to grow up without any parent should something happen to her. 

Amber is a student at U of H and an essential worker at H-E-B trying to succeed while being uninsured. As a student and part-time worker, she doesn’t work enough hours to qualify for healthcare benefits and, as a result, lives with untreated pain from a chronic health condition. Despite not having health insurance, she has also had to put herself and her family at risk as an essential worker during the pandemic in order to pay for her tuition. 

Gloria is a mom who struggles to keep herself healthy while trying to care for the needs of two of her children who live with disabilities. Though her kids are covered, she is not. Due to their special needs, she can’t work more than part-time, which means no insurance benefits. She lives with chronic asthma, and severe asthma attacks continuously land her in the emergency room putting an enormous financial strain on her family. 


To learn more about the over a million Texans who would benefit from coverage expansion, you can read this resource by Cover Texas Now.