In Texas’ three legislative sessions this year, our leaders focused on restricting vote, health services and freedom of speech. In the meantime, they have once again failed to act to improve access to health care for their constituents despite bipartite support for the last bill, Live Well Texas (HB 3871/SB 117). Their priorities are seriously misplaced. Opposition lawmakers may not realize that barriers to accessing healthcare are having negative impacts not only on low-income Texans, but also on providers who struggle to serve them.
I know this from personal experience as an internist and pediatrician who has provided primary care services to uninsured and underinsured adults and children for the past decade – notably, since just after the adoption of the Affordable Care Act. I practiced in Florida – another state with extremely restricted access to Medicaid – and Maryland before returning to my beloved Texas. It’s hard to overstate how much easier it was to get my job done in a state like Maryland where people who work hard but still cannot afford insurance had the option to enroll in Medicaid. If a patient needed a life-saving medication or a diagnosis, I would place an order and it usually happened.