Houston is a world leader in advances in medicine. From the first heart transplant to the cutting-edge research in the Texas Medical Center today, we have led the way for decades. Yet many in our community do not have access to quality, affordable health care. We have an obligation to make sure they do.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA), passed a decade ago, was a strong first step toward addressing real obstacles to care and making health care accessible, but we have work ahead of us to improve it. It is critical now that we defend the protections of the ACA, especially for Texans with pre-existing conditions, against partisan attempts to repeal it.
Millions of Texans are enrolled under ACA. Millions more in the state lack health insurance entirely. One study estimated that more than 650,000 Texans have lost their health insurance because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Congress, I serve on the New Democrat Coalition Health Care Task Force, working to develop and advance policies to improve our health care system, reduce costs, increase choices for consumers, reduce burdens for small businesses, eliminate junk plans, and expand coverage. Equally important, we must bring down the cost of prescription drugs.
I have co-sponsored and voted for the Protecting Americans with Preexisting Conditions Act, the Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act, and the Elijah Cummings Lower Prescription Drug Costs Now Act, which gives Medicare the ability to negotiate the price of prescription drugs and provides dental and vision benefits to Medicare recipients.
I have also supported the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act to expand health care coverage and to encourage states like Texas that have not expanded Medicaid to do so, providing more than a million of Texans access to health care. This is especially important as we combat the coronavirus pandemic and its burdens on our health care providers.
With the largest medical center in the world, instability in health care can also mean instability in Houston’s economy. I led and passed legislation in the House to protect funding for hospitals by postponing for two years a Trump Administration regulation that is anticipated to lead to severe cuts to Medicaid funding.