COVID19 is a public health emergency. It poses a threat to the American economy, millions of lives, and it demands a serious, immediate, science-based response.
The United States is more vulnerable to coronavirus than many countries due to our high numbers of uninsured people, millions of us without paid sick leave, and state and federal leadership that has downplayed the challenge while not preparing this country for the threat that coronavirus poses. And in Texas, where 5 million people do not have health insurance and may not seek care due to the cost, the situation is especially dangerous.
We need to take decisive action. That's why Julie is calling for a 5-part action plan as part of our response to coronavirus:
- 1. Institute an emergency paid family leave program.
- 2. Extend Medicare coverage without copays or deductibles to all Americans for primary care visits & emergency care, especially for people over 50 with chronic health issues.
- 3. Address critical supply chain chokepoints revealed by the coronavirus to ensure that we have the medical technologies and drugs necessary to manage our response.
- 4. Make any eventual coronavirus vaccine that is developed available to the public at no cost.
- 5. Enact a fiscal stimulus package to head off a global recession
The US has known about how dangerous the virus was since late January.
But instead of managing the spread in this country, we witnessed an abject refusal by the Trump administration to adequately respond or prepare. Making Mike Pence -- a science-denying ideologue -- the head of the taskforce to address coronavirus has only made matters worse. The taskforce’s refusal to use the World Health Organization’s coronavirus tests led to our inability to conduct widespread testing.
That has slowed diagnoses -- and with a highly transmittable disease that can spread in a matter of hours or days, that has already had devastating effects -- as there are now hundreds of known cases in the U.S. and multiple deaths.
And that unpreparedness has now hit Texas’ economy especially hard, with the unprecedented cancellation of the SXSW conference -- which has cost Austin an estimated $300 million in revenues and will most severely impact tipped workers and those in the service industry who are already struggling in a city that has become less and less affordable.
Roger Williams, the incumbent Republican Congressman Julie is challenging, has not only repeatedly approved massive cuts to federal programs that are essential to this country’s health security -- he has led the effort to end protections for people with pre-existing conditions from insurance company discrimination and rip healthcare from millions of Americans.
Williams recently repeated the administration’s lie to District 25 constituents in an email, stating that “the risk still remains low for spread in our communities” -- this is not true, and repeating the administration’s lie to hundreds of thousands of Texans is a dangerous abuse of taxpayer funded communications.
We should remain clear-eyed and communicate calmly about the situation to avoid creating unnecessary panic as the virus spreads. But we need to take clear, decisive action to stabilize our economy and to keep Texas families healthy.
The Trump administration needs to be held accountable for its disastrous response, and for lying to the American public about the rate of coronavirus’ spread. That has left everyone less safe.
In the short term, every single person in the country must be able to talk to a doctor if they think they might have coronavirus and to get the recommended testing and care if they do, without fear of the treatment’s cost. Julie believes that every person in this country should have health care under Medicare for All. But there are still emergency measures we can take to mitigate the coronavirus’ impact.
It is possible that the economic effects of the coronavirus may trigger a global recession. Congress must act and pass a fiscal stimulus package to head off the possibility of a recession.
In the short term, there are concrete steps we can take to ensure an adequate response to coronavirus. Congress should extend Medicare to cover every American for primary care visits and ER care, especially for those over the age of 50 who may have chronic health issues.
Stopping the spread of infectious disease must be our top priority, and we should remove financial barriers to care for patients who may be contagious wherever possible.
Julie is committed to passing a national paid family leave program so that every Texan can take care of a loved one, get care for themselves, or to be with a new child and to take time away from work to do so.
And as part of our response to coronavirus, Congress must institute an emergency paid leave program so that any Texan presenting coronavirus symptoms can get time off of work, fully paid, in order to see a doctor, get treatment, or provide care to a family member or loved one.
Julie is also calling for Congress to give the FDA anti-monopoly authority to begin addressing critical supply chain chokepoints revealed by the coronavirus. We should use all legal means to ensure that the medical technologies and drugs necessary to manage our response to coronavirus can be produced in the United States in the quantities necessary to address the crisis.
When a coronavirus vaccine is developed, health insurance companies and federal health programs must cover the cost.
And most importantly, we must recognize that diseases do not recognize man-made borders, and that means practicing ethical and evidence-based infection control. The Trump administration has banned the CDC from using “evidence-based” or “policy-based” in its official documents -- that’s unacceptable for an agency whose mission must be informed by science.
The coronavirus pandemic makes it painfully clear how important it is to uphold the principles of science and fact-based transparency. This district should have a member of Congress who can work with state and local leaders in Texas to ensure that our monitoring of the disease and our response are based on facts and science, not on fear.
Diseases like coronavirus remind us why we need a functioning State department to foster healthy international relationships, and the importance of inter-agency operability and real expertise. It is also a sobering reminder of how underfunded the American healthcare system is, and how we need a massive investment in this country’s inadequate public health infrastructure, and leaders in positions of public trust with real expertise who are prepared to jump into action at a moment's notice.
For Texas to have the health care infrastructure foundation that will help us catch infectious diseases before they spread, it will require that we fully fund health care in our state and across the country.
Julie is calling for these steps to be taken to combat the coronavirus:
- 1. Extend Medicare coverage without copays or deductibles to all Americans for primary care visits & emergency care, especially for people over 50 with chronic health issues.
- 2. Break patent-imposed licenses on the medical technologies and drugs necessary, so that they can be produced in the US in the quantities needed to address the crisis.
- 3. Increase federal investment in developing a coronavirus vaccine.
- 4. Make any eventual vaccine for coronavirus available to the public at no cost.
- 5. Prevent Congress from allowing riders or special funds for Trump's border "wall", for ICE, or for creating an excuse for tax cuts to be used in any Congressional action aimed at addressing coronavirus.
- 6. Require that every health insurance company cover any eventual coronavirus vaccine, free of cost.
- 7. Provide any eventual coronavirus vaccine to underserved, acutely vulnerable and the uninsured free of cost.
- 8. Institute an emergency paid leave program so that any Texan presenting coronavirus symptoms can get time off of work, fully paid, in order to see a doctor, get treatment, or provide care to a family member or loved one.
- 9. Enact a fiscal stimulus package to neutralize the economic impact of coronavirus and prevent a recession.
- 1. Appointed to Central Health -- whose mission is delivering healthcare to indigent Texans and underserved communities -- by Austin City Council.
- 2. Organized a community effort with hundreds of demonstrators to reverse the Central Health vote to kill Sendero -- a non-profit healthcare exchange product 14,000 low-income Travis County residents rely on. The vote was successfuly reversed, and funding for this life-saving healthcare option continues for the commumity.
- 3. Fought for greater transparency and accountability on the board of Central Health.
- 4. Featured speaker at the launch of Healthy Texas, an initiative to bring Medicare for All to rural Texas.
- 5. Led the effort to lift base pay wage to at least $15/hour for all employees across the Central Health ecosystem -- which includes Central Health, Community Care Collaborative, Sendero Health Plans, and CommUnityCare.