With just over one week to go until Super Tuesday, NBC 5 examines where the Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate in Texas stand on health care.
The highest polling candidate, MJ Hegar, a combat veteran, says she wants to improve on the Affordable Care Act, protect preexisting conditions and move toward a public option protecting private insurance.
“We have to protect preexisting conditions. We have millions of Texans that have preexisting conditions,” Hegar said in May 2019.
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Another candidate, activist Cristina Tzintzun Ramirez, says she supports Medicare for All.
“I want the system that is the most cost effective, that will be the most efficient and effective to provide the highest quality healthcare for the American people, and I believe that is Medicare for All,” Tzintzun Ramirez said in January.
Former U.S. Rep. Chris Bell, of Houston is calling for a public option for Medicare that would be available to all, to lower prices of prescription drugs and to protect preexisting conditions.
“I think that my greatest concern is for patients, and for doctors, and for hospitals, and I want to see a system whereby healthcare will be treated as a right,” he said in July 2019.
Houston City Council member Amanda Edwards says she supports building on the program passed during the Obama administration, protecting preexisting conditions and ensuring a public option would be available for those who could not get coverage.
“I believe that we need to expand on the Affordable Care Act as it was originally intended, have a public option, but give people the options they want,” Edwards said in July 2019.
State Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas) says he wants to expand Medicaid and the ACA, create a public option while protecting private insurance and protect preexisting conditions.
“There is no reason why, in the state of Texas, we should have between 25% and 30% uninsured persons,” West said in July 2019.
Many of the other candidates have talked about healthcare on their websites and in interviews. Their comments are listed below.
U.S. Army Reserve Col. Victor Harris (campaign website)
“The only way to get to a universal medical system is to privatize medicine and force old models out. Use existing automation to provide faster and cheaper services. One way is to replace triage centers with artificial intelligence medical analysts to provide initial diagnoses. We have robots conducting surgery, why not triage of common ailments. We cannot pay for this on the backs of our working-class. We can get there!."
Psychologist and Pastor Michael Cooper
"I want to expand Medicaid, and improve and repair the Affordable Care Act. We want Medicare for All as soon as possible, but for now, I want to go ahead and improve on the ACA."
Teacher Jack Daniel Foster Jr. (campaign website)
"Texas has a unique law I feel we can take advantage of; Health and Safety Code Chapter 121 - Local Public Health Reorganization Act in conjunction with Government Code Chapter 791. Counties, cities and towns can negotiate in good faith together showing hospitals their commitment to healthcare and real affordability for all. We cannot build a new future within my vision 'A Better Way' and my plan The Cycle of Return - Incentives for Texas counties if healthcare premiums are disproportionate to any income. I will also seek a waiver from Medicare to allow Texas counties to negotiate on their behalf."
Activist Annie Garcia (campaign website)
"I vow to fight for every Texan to have the same access to medical treatment that was afforded my daughter when her life hung in the balance- free, universal healthcare. I am not going to blow smoke and act like I have all the answers on how we get there, because no one does. But I promise you that that is a top priority and my goal, and I will work like hell to figure out the best way to get it done."
Community Advocate Sema Hernandez (campaign website)
“I support Medicare for All, as it is defined in U.S. Senate Bill S.1129. This is the direct way to provide full healthcare benefits for everyone and raise the standard of healthcare in this country. I will re-introduce the bill, in its current form, if Sen. Sanders has not done so in 2020. The bill provides everyone with the same coverage, regardless of gender, socioeconomic status, race, religion, and other demographic status, eliminating premiums, copays, deductibles and the Donut Hole."
Private Equity Principal Adrian Ocegueda (to KVUE)
"Well, we look at that as two-fold and as a Democrat, obviously, what we are trying to address is reducing the cost of health care as well as increasing coverage. So, I think where there's a level of bipartisan support is that most of us agree that health care, in terms of the inflation of that market, needs to have some form of control and we did see a little bit of a lull, but we're at this tipping point where we're expecting to see health care costs go up about 5% to 6% in 2019 and in 2020. So, when we look at that increase, we have to say what is going on in that market."