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Testing For All Texans to Protect Texas—Members Urge Abbott to Implement Free Testing and Enable More Texans to Get Insured

March 20, 2020

***Press Release***

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 20, 2020

Contact: Kate Stotesbery

202-494-4620 (Cell)

 

Testing For All Texans to Protect Texas—Members Urge Abbott to Implement Free Testing and Enable More Texans to Get Insured

Washington, D.C. – Today, as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads across Texas, U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, led a group of Texas Democrats in urging Governor Abbott to tap into the federal funds that were made available for Texas in the Families First Coronavirus Response legislation and enable implementation of COVID-19 testing for all Texans, regardless of their insurance status. With approximately five million uninsured Texans, assuring no-cost testing for them is of the highest public health priority.

Likewise, they urged Governor Abbott to join their call to Secretary Azar to open a special open enrollment period to allow uninsured Americans to seek Marketplace coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) during this pandemic. Over one million uninsured Texans are eligible for no-premium plans.

“Now that the Families First Coronavirus Response Act has been adopted with bipartisan support, we respectfully urge you to assure that any uninsured Texan who receives a physician’s recommendation for a COVID-19 test can get that test for free,” write the lawmakers. “Under the measure just passed, you are empowered to expand Medicaid eligibility for all uninsured individuals in Texas. While aware that you have strongly opposed Medicaid expansion, this specific expansion is solely for testing and requires no state funding. To overcome the COVID-19 pandemic, we must identify its scope by determining who is infected to mitigate community spread and assure necessary treatment.”

The full letter is here and below:

 

Greg Abbott

Governor, State of Texas

P.O. Box 12428

Austin, TX 78711

 

Dear Governor Abbott,

Now that the Families First Coronavirus Response Act has been adopted with bipartisan support, we respectfully urge you to assure that any uninsured Texan who receives a physician’s recommendation for a COVID-19 test can get that test for free.  Under the measure just passed, you are empowered to expand Medicaid eligibility for all uninsured individuals in Texas.  While aware that you have strongly opposed Medicaid expansion, this specific expansion is solely for testing and requires no state funding. 

To overcome the COVID-19 pandemic, we must identify its scope by determining who is infected to mitigate community spread and assure necessary treatment.  Many among the 5 million uninsured Texans will otherwise not seek testing, leaving all in our community at risk.  We request your approval for Texas to accept federal funds by expanding the Texas Medicaid program for COVID-19 testing for our vulnerable neighbors.

Further, we ask that you join in our call to HHS Secretary Alex Azar to reopen the Federal Marketplace through a Special Enrollment Period under the Affordable Care Act.  An estimated 1.1 million uninsured Texans are eligible for free Marketplace coverage right now.  A Special Enrollment Period will allow more people to get coverage during this crisis, making all of our community safer.

We stand ready to assist in any way we can to protect the public health of the millions of Texans we all serve.  We appreciate your consideration of this request and look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

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