Produced for the 85th Texas Legislative session (2017)
The Texas Conference of Catholic Bishops holds that health care is not a privilege, but a right that should be available to every human being. Health care is essential for the proper development of life and for human beings to flourish and reach their full potential, as they were created by God to be. Particular care must be offered to those who have special needs because of age, addiction, physical or mental disability.
That means that our public policy should work toward health care equity access and promotion, so that everyone has access to quality health care services with no disparity because of their race, ethnicity, citizenship, language preference or socio-economic status.
Recognizing that prevention-oriented health care is better for our families, the bishops encourage health literacy and education, as well as the alleviation of food insecurity and hunger through expanded access to summer nutrition programs, school breakfast projects and nutritional awareness.
Other ways to achieve the bishops’ vision of health care equity access includes legislation that ensures a core benefit plan for all, and legislation that sufficiently and fairly finances health care.
Specific to the needs of the vulnerable and poor, enrolling every child in the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Medicaid with 12-month continuous eligibility, opposing efforts to reduce eligibility or increase barriers to coverage, and giving particular concern to refugee resettlement with access to health care needs are important considerations.
Another vulnerable population is those who are the victims of human trafficking. Since almost 60 percent of human trafficking victims are seen by a health care professional, legislation to support the outreach and education of medical providers to accurately identify and help victims is critical to help eradicate human trafficking and provide care to victims.
Youth in foster care deserve the same level of medical care as any other child in Texas. Because they suffer at a higher rate than any other group of children from physical, developmental, dental and behavioral health conditions, it should be required that a child in foster care receives a health screening within 72 hours of entering care. In addition, Child Protective Services workers should be stationed in children’s hospitals and foster care clinics, and the state should consider a new foster care clinic program similar to the Texas Medical Child Abuse Resources and Education System (MEDCARES).