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Efforts continue to quell the backlash over President Donald Trump’s changing statements on the Russia summit. Also on the Thursday rundown: protestors are out for Mike Pence’s visit to Missouri; and nobody wants to go, but one option is green burials.

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Citizen Lobbyists Urge Lawmakers to Cover Texas Now

The Cover Texas Now coalition says 1 million Texans don't have access to affordable coverage because they don't get insurance through employers, and they don't make enough money to qualify for financial assistance. Photo credit: Gedvali/Wikimedia Commons.
The Cover Texas Now coalition says 1 million Texans don't have access to affordable coverage because they don't get insurance through employers, and they don't make enough money to qualify for financial assistance. Photo credit: Gedvali/Wikimedia Commons.
March 20, 2015

AUSTIN, Texas - Cover Texas Now, a coalition of consumer and faith-based organizations, brought 350 citizen advocates to the state Capitol recently to urge lawmakers to find a way to insure people that have fallen into a health-care coverage gap.

Leah Harbordt, a volunteer with the Holy Family Birthing Center, a nonprofit maternity care clinic in the Rio Grande Valley, wanted lawmakers to know about the large number of people she works with who can't get coverage.

"We see that as a safety-net clinic and birth center," she said, "that 80 percent of our clients are falling into this category that wouldn't otherwise have access to health insurance."

The state's Health and Human Services Commission reported that 1 million working adults could be added to Medicaid if the state chooses to expand coverage. According to the coalition, 76 percent of the uninsured are from working families who don't get health benefits from their jobs and don't make enough money to get financial help in the marketplace.

Coalition members said local taxpayers end up paying the majority of the costs for the uninsured, and so accepting federal matching funds could reduce the taxpayer's burden from 100 percent to 10 percent. Every $1 from the state would produce $9 from the feds. Harbordt said it's not just money that's at stake.

"Being able to have access to affordable health care throughout someone's lifespan is important in order to create healthy families and a healthy community," she said, "and not doing that costs lives and money."

Republican leaders have resisted taking federal money because of rigid rules, and say costs to the state will increase over time. The coalition claims that closing the coverage gap would create 300,000 new jobs in Texas and would give insurance to more than 66,000 veterans and their spouses.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - TX