March 31, 2020
St Philips Episcopal Church
1310 Pecan Valley Dr
San Antonio, Texas 78210-3416
With so many neighbors unemployed through no fault of their own, you may know someone who has just lost their job. First, that individual should promptly file for greatly enhanced unemployment insurance benefits with the Texas Workforce Commission . Workforce Solutions Alamo offers assistance with both job searches and unemployment insurance. If, in addition to unemployment, that individual or a family member contracts coronavirus, they could be quickly burdened by huge bills. The legislation we have approved in Congress provides free testing for all, but despite my best efforts, it is sadly deficient in failing to provide any patient protection for treatment costs. With this public health emergency spreading like wildfire, our uninsured and underinsured neighbors must be equipped with the ability to protect and care for their families.
For those who suddenly find themselves with neither job nor health insurance, there is an alternative for many under the Affordable Care Act. This is particularly valuable for those who are eligible for premium assistance—individuals with incomes from $12,490 to $49,960, and for a family of four, from $25,750 to $103,000. In San Antonio, we have a wonderful nonprofit with no conflict of interest that has been providing valuable free health insurance counseling. Schedule a phone appointment with EnrollSA to evaluate your options at enrollsa.com or 210-977-7997 . Help me spread the word about securing insurance protection against the costs of coronavirus and other health care needs. We are all safer when we are all covered.
Additionally, here is a helpful guide from the New York Times to navigating the insurance marketplace: “How to Get Health Insurance if You’re Worried About Coronavirus or Have Lost Your Job,” linked here .
As you know, the Trump Administration continues doing everything possible to undermine Obamacare (and anything else associated with President Obama). But even this hostile Administration created a special enrollment period following Hurricane Harvey. I led over 100 colleagues in urging HHS Secretary Alex Azar to do the same for our current very real disaster. You can read that request here. When our plea went unanswered, I authored bicameral legislation to mandate nationwide open enrollment during a public health emergency.
Here in Texas, an estimated 1.1 million uninsured people, who fall within the lower end of the above income limits, are currently eligible for no-premium marketplace plans. The Affordable Care Act is an invaluable tool in combating the coronavirus pandemic. Let’s give more Americans an opportunity to access affordable health care, especially those who missed last year’s Trump-narrowed and little federally-publicized enrollment period.
As the Trump Administration has delayed and denied, our local leaders have stepped up to keep us safe and respond with essential services. The San Antonio Food Bank is helping many; Meals on Wheels is distributing refrigerable meals to registered participants. Bexar County Commissioners Court has authorized $5 million for Liftfund to provide zero interest loans to assist small businesses, who qualify, that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. CPS Energy customers will continue to receive uninterrupted utilities services. The San Antonio Metropolitan Health District’s COVID-19 hotline is available for residents to ask questions about the virus. The hotline is available in English and Spanish. Residents can call 210-207-5779 or email COVIDfirstname.lastname@example.org.
My office and I are working to hear from as many people as possible to understand their experiences and to identify the most practical and effective ways to help both legislatively and otherwise. Because we have so much incoming, I am changing my normal request that you reply to my message. This time, please only reply if there is immediate assistance that you need, adding “Reply Requested” to the subject line or if you have a specific recommendation. This will help me focus on aiding those who need it most.
My continually-updated coronavirus resources page includes updates on recent legislation, information on my oversight efforts for the Trump Administration, and many other local guides: https://doggett.house.gov/coronavirus. I also recorded a constituent message about accessing health care in these uncertain times; you can watch that here .
We will get through this by getting through it together. I welcome your good counsel.
United States Congresman
Representing the 35th District of Texas