Texas has the highest percentage of uninsured residents in the nation.
DALLAS — U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Colin Allred hosted a roundtable in Dallas on Monday focused on expanding Medicaid in the state and allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices. medications.
Texas is one of twelve US states that have not expanded Medicaid, and the state has both the highest number and the highest percentage of uninsured residents in the state.
Nearly one in five Texans has no insurance.
“It would expand vital coverage to over a million Texans, 1 million Texans, if we could just expand Medicaid here,” Allred said.
The panel included North Texans who shared personal stories like not being able to afford insulin, a common example of wanting to lower prescription drug prices because its cost can often run into the hundreds of dollars.
The roundtable also addressed the COVID-19 pandemic.
Health clinic leaders said American Rescue Plan Act funds allowed them to expand coverage, but part of the reason the roundtable is timely now is that those funds are disappearing.
Dallas County Health Director Dr. Phil Huang said he was concerned about how they would continue to fund vaccinations and testing afterward. He said Parkland was spending $1.8 million a month to treat uninsured COVID patients.
Although there are talks in Congress to add more COVID funding, disagreements over what the money should be allocated to and how to pay it have prevented anything concrete from passing.
Medicaid expansion was a mostly Democratic-led effort, but former President Donald Trump took steps to begin negotiating lower prescription drug costs and campaigned in part on the idea of use what is called a most-favoured-nation model, linking drug costs to prices in other developed countries where they are cheaper.
Pelosi focused the blame on Republicans in Congress and lobbying drug companies, which she said were spending more money on advertising than on research.
“It’s a mission because it’s right on the kitchen table of every table in America,” Pelosi said. “I’ve seen grown men cry as they travel the country and listen to the people, the priorities of the American people.”
Outside of health care, Allred and Pelosi discussed rising gas prices and the conflict in Ukraine.
Allred called it “misinformation” that domestic production is being held back. Pelosi noted that there are 6,000 unused drilling licenses that have already been issued and said the higher prices are due to the Russian invasion.