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Texas state legislators will tackle several healthcare issues during this session. From abortion to Medicaid, vaccines and opioids just to name a few.

Texas is right in the middle of the federal lawsuit seeking to end the Affordable Care Act, known as “Obamacare.” Lawmakers are arguing the law is no longer constitutional after Congress ended the individual mandate. Texas also has the highest uninsured rate among adults in the country and the largest number of children with no insurance. 

Here are the top four health related issues we will be watching during the session:

Medicaid

Medicaid is a joint federal-state health insurance program for the poor and disabled and the cost of the program continues to grow year after year. As legislators begin budget talks, Medicaid will be a point of contention because of other funding priorities like Hurricane Harvey recovery, property taxes and of course the big one – school financing. It will be important to watch to see if legislators overhaul the program as doctors push for higher reimbursement rates the program can’t afford.

Opioids and substance abuse

In November Texas legislators said in a report that the state has an alarming problem when it comes to helping Texans with substance abuse. Nearly 3,000 Texans died from opioid or other drug-related overdoses in 2017. The report also stated it would cost almost $931.1 million to tackle the problem.  And of course, there is only so much money to budget.

Abortion

Many anti-abortion groups have a new found hope that as abortion bills are passed into law. In Texas and other states, any lawsuits that may actually move up to the Supreme Court could trigger the justices to reexamine Roe v. Wade. One Texas Senate bill would prepare for the demise of Roe v. Wade with a state constitutional amendment prohibiting abortions in the state if the Supreme Court overturns it. Of course, the bill would have to pass into law for anything dramatic to happen.

Vaccines

Diseases from the past are popping up as of recent like measles, mumps and whooping cough have resurfaced nationwide among unvaccinated people.  Texas is one of 25 states that have experienced a measles outbreak in 2018 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There are a number of Texas children in Texas; in fact, 56,738 Texas students from kindergarten to 12th grade have conscientious vaccine exemptions according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. Another issue to watch includes the anti-vaxxers.

 

Sources:  capitol.texas.gov/Centers for Disease Control/Texas Department of State Health Services/texmed.org

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