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Today in Texas and the U.S., the foundational questions regarding health care are questions of justice: Is health care an optional commodity, a necessity, or a right? Should all people have access to the exact same level of care in every situation? Should resources be distributed within the community to ensure that all members of the community receive the same quality of goods and services? Who gets to decide? All of...

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Today in Texas and the U.S., the foundational questions regarding health care are questions of justice: Is health care an optional commodity, a necessity, or a right? Should all people have access to the exact same level of care in every situation? Should resources be distributed within the community to ensure that all members of the community receive the same quality of goods and services? Who gets to decide? All of these questions relate to the core issue of just distribution of resources. If resources were infinite, everyone could have everything they want all the time—but because they are limited, we must develop systems as a community to ensure that resources are divided in ways that meet our collective and individual needs without unduly burdening some members of the community. In the area of health care, justice questions are primarily questions of health care finance.

Ensuring affordable access to quality healthcare is one of Texas' biggest challenges. For two decades, Texas has led the nation in the percentage of the population without health insurance.

  • Almost 6 million Texans—one out of every four people in our state—lack any kind of health insurance.

  • Texans have seen health insurance premiums jump forty percent in just five years—ten times faster than Texas household incomes.

  • More than eighty percent of uninsured Texans are in working families, and three quarters of them make incomes above 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level.

Health insurance is too integral to the state’s health care infrastructure to be treated as an optional commodity. Texas has a responsibility to enact legislation that will enable its residents to get the health insurance and healthcare that they need and should frame health care as a project of community and balance:

  • Health care finance system should provide a level of care to every member of the community that those with the most means would consider necessary for themselves and their loved ones.

  • Every member of the community should contribute to the system relative to their means.

  • The system should serve the community as a whole, not individual members of the community.

  • The system should create expectations of personal responsibility while acknowledging the certainty of irresponsible behavior by individuals.

Health insurance remains the Achilles heel of Texas’ economy. More than one out of every four nonelderly adult Texans is uninsured, rendering Texas the most uninsured state in the nation.

While health insurance alone cannot guarantee good health or long life, research confirms that access to coverage is associated with a number of positive health related impacts such as having a regular doctor; receiving timely preventive care services; better management of chronic health conditions; improved health status, particularly among people with chronic health problems; greater workforce participation; and longer life expectancy. Health insurance also protects families financially. 

Widespread lack of health insurance results in distortions in public spending. A primary concern is the impact on local government, where tax revenues often go to pay for indigent care at the expense of infrastructure, education and other priorities. At the state level, lawmakers allocated about $1 billion in general revenue in the current biennium to treat diseases and conditions for specific low-income populations that would be covered under a typical health insurance policy.

Texas has the opportunity to cover more than a million nonelderly adults using federal funds made available through the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA provides federal Medicaid funds at an enhanced 90 percent match rate to allow states to provide health insurance to low-income adults. States have the option to use the funds to expand their existing Medicaid programs to non-elderly adults with incomes below 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or to implement other coverage expansions that provide quality health insurance to the same population.

Legislators also can help to improve health insurance conditions for individuals above 138 percent of the poverty level. Texans will benefit from these provisions as well, but they will benefit far more if lawmakers direct the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) to protect health insurance consumers by intervening in rate increases and to ensure that consumer health insurance information is accessible and useful. Legislators also should direct TDI to use existing fund balances from now-defunct programs to strengthen Texans’ health insurance, through strategies such as establishing a grant program for local communities to improve health insurance conditions.

Event Date: 
Monday, January 9, 2017 - 12:00pm

Update: Video Archive now available on Facebook Live.

Are you as excited for Weekly Witness as we are? To make sure we have our systems in place, we will be doing a Weekly Witness Webinar focused on health care the day before the legislative session starts, January 9, 2017, at noon. Register here.

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AdvocateCurrent Calls to Action

Our first annual Health Justice Sabbath weekend was a huge success! People of faith across Texas gathered to pray, study, and take action to support health care for all Texans.

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AdvocateCurrent Calls to ActionEngage

At a time when many Americans are wondering what might be in store for the U-S healthcare system (particularly in the Lone Star State, which leads the nation in both number and percentage of uninsured residents), Texas faith communities have a message for congregants and lawmakers alike: healthcare should be above politics.


Update 2: High-resolution video of the press conference is now online. Watch it on Youtube or embedded below.

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Engage

Above Politics Webinar: Health Advocacy Training, Part 2 - November 17, 2016 at 12PM

Thursday, November 17, Texas Impact staff will be available via webinar to help congregations participating in, or interested in the Health Justice Sabbath. We will also make time available to listen to what you plan on doing and share ideas. 

To learn more about the Health Justice Sabbath, or to register your congregation, go to www.abovepoliticstx.org

We look forward to visiting with you on the call and hope you will invite people you know who might be interested.

Thanks to everyone who joined us for Friday's Above Politics Health Advocacy Training, Part 1. Congregational Outreach Director Scott Atnip and Policy Analyst Imaad Khan discussed health justice in Texas and provided resources to prepare leaders for Texas Impact's Health Justice Sabbath or to host a Health Advocacy Training in their local congregation or community.


Webinar Video:

The full webinar video is available on Youtube and embedded below.

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EngageLearn
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Texas Impact's Board of Directors, representing more than two-dozen Christian, Jewish, and Muslim denominational bodies, as well as hundreds of local congregations, ministerial alliances and interfaith networks, and thousands of people of faith throughout Texas, adopted the statement below on September 13 at their biennial legislative board retreat.

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Action AlertCurrent Calls to ActionEngageLegislative AgendaStatements

This week marks the halfway point in is Texas’ 2016-2017 biennial budget cycle—and it’s already clear that legislators will face significant fiscal challenges when they convene in January.

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Learn

The spread of the mosquito-borne virus known as Zika, the first new virus in 50 years to have known links to serious birth defects, has national and state officials working quickly to address the disease in Texas. To help combat Zika, Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt met on Monday, August 22, in Austin with various faith community leaders and Texas Impact staff to discuss Texas’ Zika plan. Several more congregational and denominational leaders called in by phone to hear the Commissioner's report.

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EngageLearn

State health officials addressing a packed house at the McAllen Convention Center yesterday (July 6), said Texas is likely to be one of the first areas of the country to see an outbreak of the mosquito-borne Zika virus. The good news is that Texas already leads the nation in planning and prevention of the disease which severely affects unborn children.

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