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Elections

Greg Abbott Rolls Out Health Plan In Texas Governor’s Race

Republican candidate for governor, Greg Abbott, in Houston to announce health proposals.

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Greg Abbott presents his health ideas
Greg Abbott presents his health ideas for the state of Texas in the maternity wing of St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Houston.

 

The Republican candidate for governor, Greg Abbott, chose Houston as the city to announce his health platform. The candidate’s plan includes a mix of spending and regulatory tweaks to help women, veterans, and people who rely on home health aides.  

Women’s health and reproductive issues have been a big issue in the race between Abbott and Democrat Wendy Davis.

In announcing his health plan, Abbott made services for women the first point. He spoke at a downtown Houston hospital, St. Joseph’s Medical Center, in the maternity and gynecological building.

sign reads: dont take away my birth control
Protestors outside the building criticized Abbott for his support of Texas laws and regulations that have shuttered women’s health clinics.

“I will increase funding for women’s health programs by $50 million,” Abbott said. “That’s a 20 percent increase in funding that we’re providing. And we’ll do things like provide more access to things like family planning, well-woman care, and cancer screenings.”

Abbott got specific on the issue of post-partum depression, saying more women who give birth under the public Medicaid program should be screened for the problem.

He also proposed free mental health screenings for veterans, and raising the wages of home health aides in certain state-funded programs.

Speaking more broadly, Abbott pointed out there aren’t enough doctors and other health workers for the state’s growing population. He proposed more spending on medical residencies and a legislative push to require insurance companies to reimburse doctors for phone consultations.

“My plan calls for the safe expansion of telemedicine with the same high standards of care as you would get with an in-person visit,” he said.

But Abbott said he’s still against expanding Medicaid to more adults in Texas. That position is what drew protestors to gather outside the hospital while he spoke.  

Abbott said that Medicaid is too flawed to expand, and the expansion is part of the Affordable Care Act, which he opposes.

TOP protesters
Protestors with the Texas Organizing Project criticized Abbott’s opposition to expanding Medicaid to uninsured adult Texans, an optional part of the Affordable Care Act.

Tiffany Hogue, an advocate with the Texas Organizing Project, was among the protestors. Hogue said Medicaid actually works pretty well for those who can get it.

“I think the key thing that Texas really needs to address is that we’re not reimbursing doctors at a correct rate,” she said. “If you want to talk about flaws in the system, that’s what needs to get fixed.”

Back inside, Republican State Senator Joan Huffman was one of the few women to attend. She said she wants more details, but overall she likes Abbott’s plan.

“These innovative ideas are really wonderful, like telemedicine, like encouraging more doctors to stay in Texas, I think those are good ideas and a good start.” 

Wendy Davis’s campaign issued a statement saying it was ironic that Abbott spoke at a women’s medical building, since as attorney general he is fighting in the courts to shut down some women’s clinics that also provide abortions.

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