House bill

House bill is a game-changer for Texas families

Congress is poised to improve the lives of children and parents in San Antonio and across Texas.

The “Build Back Better” budget reconciliation package – which was passed by the US House and is now in the Senate – is a game-changer. It dramatically improves access to affordable health care, reaches families who need affordable, quality child care and preschool, and takes other steps to reduce child poverty and support families. Many of these strategies build on the good initial steps the Texans have already taken, including in Bexar County.

The bill includes a big victory in the fight for health care for moms – an example of one of the ways Congress and Texas leaders are pushing in the same direction. The Congressional plan allows mothers enrolled in Medicaid to continue to see their doctors for a full year after childbirth, implementing the main recommendation of the Texas Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review Committee. Texas House passed the same measure this year on a strong bipartisan vote, but the Senate reduced coverage to six months before the governor enacted it.

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Health care for children will also benefit from the bill. Children who receive their insurance through Medicaid would no longer be at risk of quitting and resuming their health plan because a parent did a few extra shifts at work a month and momentarily moved into a new income bracket. Instead, kids could continue to use their insurance for 12 consecutive months so they wouldn’t miss their doctor’s appointments, mental health supports, or prescriptions. The Texas legislature has recognized the same challenge, this year passing a bill to take a first step toward solving the problem.

The package in Congress is also set to achieve a historic victory in healthcare in an area where heads of state have dropped the ball. The bill provides an insurance option for home health aides, cashiers, janitors and other low-wage workers in the 12 states – including Texas – that have recklessly blocked the expansion of Medicaid.

Landmark Bill in Congress Known as the ‘Build Better’ Budget Reconciliation Package Will Significantly Improve Access to Affordable Health Care, Targets Families in Need of Quality Day Care and Preschool Services and affordable, and takes other steps to reduce poverty and support children. families.

JERRY LARA / Team photographer

The plan bridges this “coverage gap” for the next four years by allowing adults below the poverty line to purchase insurance on HealthCare.Gov for $ 0 per month. This means more Texans will catch cancer before it spreads, get the health care they need before they get pregnant, avoid crushing medical debts, and more.

Beyond health care, the bill also ensures that children from all walks of life – not just those from high-income families – have access to effective and affordable early learning. San Antonio has been a leader on this front for years. Voters supported and local leaders implemented the Prek4SA program championed by then-mayor Julián Castro, and it became a national model for expanding access to effective pre-kindergarten.

Then, in 2019, leaders in business, education and nonprofit organizations, including former House Speaker Joe Straus, launched Early Matters San Antonio to increase investment in education from early childhood.

Additionally, Texas lawmakers like Senator Larry Taylor, Senator José Menéndez, and Representative Diego Bernal have taken a bipartisan stance in favor of quality pre-k investments in recent years as a strategy to develop third-grade readers. stronger.

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The Congress is moving in the same direction, offering all 3 and 4 year olds the possibility of a voluntary and high quality pre-kindergarten.

The early learning proposals also confront the fact that many Texans can barely afford to work, as childcare often costs more than tuition. Under Congress’ plan, a middle-class Texan family could save more than $ 1,000 a month in child care expenses.

The bill improves the quality of child care, strengthens child care staff and significantly increases funding for child care, in line with priorities successfully championed by Texas Workforce Commission leaders and Texas state legislators such as Representative Angie Chen Button, R-Richardson. Ongoing state leadership will be essential, as Congress designed the early learning provisions in the budget bill to be a partnership between the federal government and the states.

With the Build Back Better budget program, Congress is gaining momentum for children and families. We call on Congress to pass this landmark legislation swiftly and urge heads of state to leverage these investments to build on the first bipartisan steps our state is already taking.

Stephanie Rubin is CEO of Texans Care for Children.