Getting and paying for health care is a challenge for many Texans. It’s one of the key issues for voters in the March primary.
In the past few months, State of Texas has been featuring interviews with leading Democrats in the race for U.S. Senate. Each has slightly different ideas on ways to improve the health care system.
Two candidates told us they support Medicare for all, which would mostly eliminate private insurance.
“That will guarantee that every person will have health care and healthcare as a human right, as well as ending the for-profit health care system,” said Sema Hernandez.
Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez also comes out in favor of Medicare for all. She says it’s particularly important in Texas.
“As long as we’ve had a health care industry that has profited, where private insurance companies have profited off of our pain, our suffering and illness, it has resulted in the most expensive health care system in the world with some of the worst outcomes of any industrialized nation,” Tzintzún Ramirez said.
Other candidates told us they support a public option, but also the option for people to keep private health insurance plans.
“There are those that like their private insurance plans and I don’t want to see them taken away,” said former Congressman Chris Bell. “But for others who have really found this whole system to be a nightmare, I do think they should have the ability to buy into a public option.”
Houston City Council member Amanda Edwards says she supports fixing the Affordable Care Act to give people more health care options.
“You can either have an affordable public option or employer-based coverage as it currently stands today,” Edwards said. “We want to preserve and listen to the things that people complained about and then actually proffer solutions to some of those challenges,” she added.
State Senator Royce West said many of the decisions on health care will depend on who wins the race for president. But he views fixes to the Affordable Care Act as the best way to go.
“I’m still a person that believes that if a person wants to have choice in terms of health care, they should be able to have that,” West said. “Persons who want to be able to get involved in a government sponsored program should be able to do that.”
Air Force veteran MJ Hegar points to the military as an example of health care that works. She talked about the uncertainty she felt when she was pregnant and losing her job.
“I was terrified and I thought back to when I was taken the best care of and it was when I was in the military under Tricare, which is basically Medicare for military,” Hegar said.
“I want all of my neighbors and my family and my friends to have access to Medicare,” Hegar continued. “But we can’t forget that we’re a nation and a state of freedom and choices and we should leave that as a choice for people.”
Early voting in the Texas primary kicks off on Tuesday, February 18. The early voting period runs through Friday, February 28. Election day is March 3.