U. S. Sen. Ted Cruz and Texas Atty. Gen. Ken Paxton, both Republicans, are actively working to stamp out the Affordable Care Act -- nicknamed ObamaCare, for its principal advocate, former President Barack Obama.
But Democratic challengers – El Paso U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke against Sen. Cruz, and Justin Nelson against Atty. Gen. Paxton – are making health care central to their campaigns.
O’Rourke and other Democrats have been resisting – so far successfully – efforts by Republican President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans like Cruz to repeal ObamaCare.
And Nelson warns that a repeal would remove ObamaCare’s protection against insurance companies canceling policies because of pre-existing health conditions.
Paxton has been leading 19 Republican state attorneys general in federal court challenging ObamaCare as unconstitutional. The lawsuit was set for a federal court hearing in Fort Worth Wednesday morning, Sept. 5.
To call public attention to the Paxton-led lawsuit trying to abolish pre-existing conditions protection and other ObamaCare provisions, Nelson and several other statewide Democratic candidates set a rally for 6 p.m. Wednesday, at Texas AFL-CIO headquarters in Austin. (This is being written in advance of the court hearing and rally.)
Nelson, an Austin attorney and University of Texas law school adjunct professor, recently started a nationwide grassroots campaign, called #MyPreExisting (mypreexisting.com), to raise awareness of Paxton’s lawsuit attempting to shut down the prohibitions for insurance companies.
He asks website visitors to “Record a video and tell Ken Paxton how his unjust lawsuit against preexisting conditions would affect you.”
“Paxton’s lawsuit threatens the physical and financial health of people across the nation,” Nelson says. “Should he prevail, protections will be repealed for 130 million Americans with preexisting health conditions, ranging from asthma to congenital heart defects to pregnancy.
“The Kaiser Family Foundation has found that more than half of Americans either have a preexisting health condition or live in a household with someone who does, and that 27 percent of Americans under the age of 65 would become uninsurable if Paxton wins his lawsuit,” Nelson reports.
Some Democrats in the Texas Legislature also are getting into the healthcare action – like State Rep. Chris Turner of Arlington, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus.
Turner recently called on the state to accept the federal Medicaid expansion payments that were refused by former Gov. Rick Perry in 2012 and 2013.
At the time, Perry could have been nicknamed the “100 Billion Dollar Man,” because that’s what his refusal cost the state’s taxpayers over a decade – minus a state contribution of about $15 billion.
The expansion also would have increased by more than a million the number of Texans covered by medical insurance.
When Greg Abbott became governor in 2015, he took over the 100 Billion Dollar Man title from Perry, by continuing to refuse federally financed Medicaid expansion.
Turner, in an emailed open letter, asked those reading it to sign a petition to Abbott.
“In Texas, we pay our fair share of taxes to the federal government,” Turner wrote. “But when it comes to healthcare, much of our federal tax money is going to other states.
“Why? Because Governor Abbott refuses to accept federal funding -- up to $100 billion -- to expand Medicaid,” Turner wrote.
“Expanding Medicaid, and accepting the federal tax dollars that comes with it, could not only help over a million working adults in Texas get health coverage, but it would also help relieve the burden carried by our local hospitals and local taxpayers who must cover the cost of uncompensated care.
“Sign this petition and tell Governor Abbott that Texans demand he finally accept federal Medicaid funding! We can’t continue to ignore the 1 million Texans who could be covered.
“I am tired of Trump-style politics here in Texas, where our leaders care more about undermining the Affordable Care Act than making sure people get the help they need and deserve,” Turner said.
“Other states are reaping the benefits of our tax dollars -- all because of Governor Abbott’s unwillingness to act,” Turner wrote. “Texans cannot wait any longer.”
You get the idea.
O’Rourke’s campaign website lists Medicaid expansion, and universal health care, among his goals:
“ -- Expanding Medicaid to cover more Texans and protecting the Medicaid guarantee for vulnerable children, the disabled, and the elderly.
“ -- Achieving universal healthcare coverage— whether it be through a single payer system, a dual system, or otherwise – so that we can ensure everyone is able to see a provider when it will do the most good and will deliver healthcare in the most affordable, effective way possible.”
Whether the Democrats can shift Texas from being the state with the highest rate of uninsured people remains to be seen. But they sure are trying.