Texas Democrats believe healthcare is a human right and we support affordable, high-quality, universal healthcare, including moving towards publicly-funded healthcare. While 5 million Texans were already uninsured and lacked access to healthcare, the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated this crisis, with millions of Texans losing their employer-provided health coverage as a result of the economic downturn. Texas must fix this. We believe in a preventive-based healthcare system and public policy rooted in science. The government should not come between patients and their healthcare providers; but should instead focus on ending disparities for marginalized and underserved communities, and addressing critical issues including maternal mortality, mental health and substance use disorder services, rural hospital closures, and increasing funding for medical research. We must expand Medicaid, protect Medicare benefits, and make prescription drugs affordable for all.

The Texas Democratic Party supports policies and programs that:

  • Expand Medicaid coverage to improve healthcare access coverage in Texas;
  • Implement an affordable and universal “single-payer” healthcare system that would provide high-quality, privately delivered, publicly funded healthcare for all residents of Texas within 3 years, including prescription drugs, vision, hearing, dental, and mental healthcare;
  • Protect and improve the Affordable Care Act to further reduce disparities in health coverage and outcomes, as we move toward universal healthcare;
  • Expand access to contraception and protect the constitutional right to an abortion;
  • Prevent illness through vaccines, education, research, primary care, and public health initiatives;
  • Eliminate health disparities for all in Texas; and
  • Expand access to essential mental healthcare and substance use disorder services and achieve mental health parity.

Medicaid Expansion and Protection

  • Immediately expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act to improve access to healthcare coverage for millions in Texas and bring $10 billion in tax dollars back to Texas annually; and
  • Increase Medicaid reimbursement rates, extend postpartum Medicaid eligibility to at least 12 months, and reverse bureaucratic state policies that remove children from the Medicaid program.

Universal Affordable, Quality Healthcare

  • Protect, expand, and fully fund the Affordable Care Act, its required coverage of pre-existing conditions, and its requirements that all policies must provide comprehensive coverage;
  • Support the passage of legislation, including The Healthy Texas Act of 2019 and Medicare For All Act of 2019 (H.R. 1384, S.1129), that provides universal, comprehensive healthcare through a “single-payer” system in order to guarantee all Texas residents access to quality healthcare;
  • Include a “Public Option” in addition to the plans currently offered under all exchanges, as we move toward publicly-funded healthcare for all;
  • Offer patient choice of providers;
  • Prohibit surprise “balance billing”;
  • Eliminate co-pays for Medicare Part B and eliminate the “doughnut hole” in Plan D Medicare coverage;
  • Restore the right to negotiate Medicare and Medicaid drug prices;
  • Prohibit price extortion for essential drugs with limited source availability;
  • Prohibit denying coverage for medications prescribed by patients’ doctors or forcing patients into step therapy because the medication initially prescribed is not on their insurance providers’ approved formulary; and
  • Provide long-term care benefits for people with disabilities and older adults that cover multiple living arrangements including community and home-based caregiving.

Choice and Family Planning

  • Trust Texans to make personal and responsible decisions about whether and when to bear children, in consultation with their families, physicians, personal consciences, and/or their faith;
  • Enable families to raise their children in safe and sustainable communities free from individual and state violence with access to affordable, quality childcare;
  • Fund qualified healthcare providers, including Planned Parenthood, who provide preventive healthcare, pregnancy prevention, affordable prenatal care, and postpartum contraception;
  • Use evidence-based medical science and data to guide reproductive healthcare policies, recognize the rights of the pregnant person are paramount, and oppose Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) legislation, which creates dangerous restrictions on Texans’ access to abortion care;
  • Expand access to contraception and protect the constitutional right to an abortion, including by repealing the Hyde Amendment, which disproportionately impacts people of color and other marginalized communities;
  • Ensure individual rights to obtain all forms of contraception, including long-acting reversible contraception, abortion care, and other reproductive services through their health insurance provider without additional premiums;
  • Offer comprehensive, age-appropriate sex education, including information about communication strategies, consent, and healthy relationships, as well as support the rights of adolescents to access and consent to their own contraception and other reproductive healthcare, and end failed abstinence-only sex education policies;
  • Provide resources for pregnant and parenting teens while encouraging them to continue their education and career development;
  • Increase access to accurate information about reproductive health, adoption, and related resources, as well as defund crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) which discourage abortion using unscientific, inaccurate information;
  • Hold medical providers accountable for withholding information about a pregnancy from the pregnant person based on their presumption that a pregnancy would be terminated if they were aware of the condition; and
  • Fund research and counseling for postpartum depression.

Preventive Health

  • Promote vaccinations and immunizations, increase K-12 education about nutrition and healthy living, and expand opportunities for physical activity in schools;
  • Fund high-quality research on effective disease prevention, preparedness, and response, as well as invest in evidence-based practices;
  • Invest in trauma-informed care and trauma prevention programs aimed at preventing adverse childhood experiences (ACES), which have been shown to cause increased chronic disease in adulthood;
  • Expand community healthcare centers and increase the number of primary healthcare providers, including incentive programs such as tuition forgiveness to practice in underserved areas;
  • Increase education initiatives and services that address prevention and effective treatment of communicable diseases to improve quality of life and enable a return to the workforce;
  • Review existing public health recommendations and infrastructure to identify opportunities to better prepare for future disease outbreaks, including quarantining and assisting those affected and their families; and
  • Denounce the promotion of unsubstantiated information about vaccinations and immunizations not supported by peer-reviewed, scientific research.

Eliminating Health Disparities

  • Encourage research, policy, and legislation to eliminate health disparities across racial, ethnic, geographic, socioeconomic, and other populations to enable all Texans to live long, healthy, and more productive lives;
  • Acknowledge and act on systemic inequities embedded into healthcare systems at all levels which disproportionately affect Black, Indigenous, People of Color, people identifying as LGBTQIA+, people with disabilities, people with low incomes, people living in rural areas, and people who are undocumented; and
  • Ensure Texans living in rural areas have necessary access to healthcare and hospitals, including expansion of telehealth options and grants to incentivize healthcare professionals to locate in rural areas.

Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Services

  • Expand access to providers by increasing insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid reimbursement rates for licensed mental health providers, allowing longer session times, expanding telehealth reimbursement options, and expanding licensed mental health provider eligibility for Medicare reimbursement;
  • Increase access to mental health and substance use disorder services through expanded community-based services and inpatient and outpatient treatment facilities for adults and youth, including harm reduction programs such as needle exchanges and methadone-assisted treatment;
  • Expand mental health provider training programs, including treating marginalized populations, using trauma-informed treatments, and evidence-based therapies, and mandate periodic completion of updated trainings to meet continuing education licensure requirements;
  • Increase funding for treatment modality evaluation research; and
  • Fund, develop, and provide education programs addressing suicide prevention and fostering understanding of mental health issues and substance use disorders for the community, including age-appropriate education at all school levels and for professionals, including first responders, law enforcement and justice system personnel, educators, and all healthcare providers.