5 Days in October: Wendy Davis on Health Care

NBC 5 is partnering with The Dallas Morning News, KERA and Telemundo 39 to produce in-depth reports about the race for Texas governor. We asked our viewers, readers and listeners to vote on the topics most important to them. For five days, we will report in-depth on each of those topics: education, immigration, health care, economy and infrastructure.

The third report is on health care. Click here to see our report on Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.

It's a health care issue, reproductive rights, that thrust State Sen. Wendy Davis into the national spotlight last year after a nearly 13-hour filibuster.

Davis doesn't shy away from talking about abortion on the campaign trail; in fact, she released an autobiography this summer where she discusses her abortions. She says abortion is a deeply personal and private decision between one woman and her doctor, while the question of Medicaid expansion is an issue that affects every Texan.

Governor Rick Perry refused to go along with Obamacare several years ago. And by rejecting key provisions in the Affordable Care Act, Texas has rejected extra Medicaid dollars that would insure millions of residents.

"Medicaid expansion is all about bringing our tax dollars back to work for us," she said during the second gubernatorial debate in Dallas.

In every interview, Davis argues that Texas has turned its back on $100 billion in federal money.

"It makes no sense for Texans to be writing checks to the IRS and then seeing that money go elsewhere. Particularly when we do have so many hard-working Texans who fall in that gap and who'd be covered if we were to bring that money back to work for us," Davis told NBC 5.

Davis says its unacceptable that Republican leadership in Texas refuses to take federal tax dollars that would go towards insuring Texans in need.

"That money is going to supplement the health care of California and New York," she told NBC 5. "We're writing those states a check with our hard-earned tax dollars, and not seeing that money work for us, in Texas."

"Texas needs a governor who's going to bring that money back to our state and put it work in our economy and for our health care needs," she added.

As governor, Wendy Davis would have the power to use an executive order to accept Medicaid expansion -- even if the Republican, and largely conservative, legislature doesn't want it.

She told NBC 5 she does not believe she'd have to use an executive order, and would work with the legislature to make it happen.

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"I believe that I'll be able to work the legislature and make this happen," she said. "It's the right thing to do for Texas health care, it's the right thing to do for the Texas economy."

Still, when pressed, she would not definitively say if she'd use executive action to accept the federal Medicaid money.

As governor, Davis says she'd also create a special task force to handle disability claims and mental health programs for veterans. It's a priority, she says, in the under-served Rio Grande Valley.

"I will work with this community to assure that we do bring a hospital -- a veteran's hospital -- here to serve our service members who have served us so well," she said in the first debate in McAllen.

Davis supports abortion rights, saying it's a private decision between a woman and her doctor, talking about the issue during both debates.

"I stood on the Senate floor for thirteen hours to assure that this most private of decisions could be made by women," she said in McAllen, while adding in Dallas that the government has no business intruding in a personal and Constitutionally-protected medical decision.

"I do not believe the government should intrude in that most personal and private of decision makings."

During an interview this year with the Dallas Morning News, Davis also came out in favor of medical marijuana.

"With regard to medical marijuana. I personally believe that medical marijuana should be allowed for," she told the paper in February. "We certainly have an opportunity to look at what other states are doing and watch and learn from that."

CLICK HERE for a special 5 Days in October section from The Dallas Morning News.

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