The Austin Chronicle

Dems Call for Health Care for All Texans

State Rep. Gina Hinojosa pledges to carry comprehensive health care bill to the 86th Texas Lege

By Michael King, December 7, 2018, News

About 60 activists and public officials gathered at Texas AFL-CIO headquarters Friday evening, Nov. 30, to initiate legislation and an organizing campaign for the Healthy Texas Act of 2019 – intended to provide "every Texas resident [with] comprehensive healthcare services." The event was hosted by Our Revolution Texas; the proposal is a version of the Medicare for All plan championed by the national organization's spiritual leader Bernie Sanders. Austin state Rep. Gina Hinojosa said she would carry the bill in the upcoming 86th Texas Legislature.

The many bold-faced names in the room included state Sen. Kirk Watson, Council Member Pio Renteria, Austin Community College Trustee Julie Ann Nitsch, labor leaders Montserrat Garibay and Louis Malfaro, Justice of the Peace Sylvia Holmes, and a brace of still-beaming Dem midterm candidates: Julie Oliver, Mike Siegel, Chris Perri, Christine Eady Mann, Mary Wilson ... and a few more we might have missed.

Our Revolution chief rabble-rouser (and national board member) Jim Hightower noted that Texas again leads the nation in the number of uninsured children (835,000, fully 20% of the national total). "These SOBs [at the Legislature] get their health care paid for," High­tower declared, promising "We're going to go on the offensive" in organizing for the bill, recruiting activists to campaign in every district statewide, with particular outreach to counties (which bear much of the financial burden of uncompensated care) as a likely receptive audience.

Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa also spoke – on the phone from Puerto Rico, where he was attending a national party meeting – and cited Democratic victories in the midterm elections, arguing "those who ran on health care, won." He said the Texas party would fully support Medicare for All going forward. Gina Hinojosa noted the addition of 12 new Dem­ocratic House colleagues, and said the campaign for the bill would be based on "personal stories" of those needing access to health care. She and her family had recently returned from Italy, where her son needed emergency care at a hospital – "and it cost us nothing." She acknowledged the minority party might not be able to succeed immediately, adding, "Voters will decide in 2020 what we're going to do. ... It will be about us, our families, our future."

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