State Rep. Garnet Coleman provides health care update

State Rep. Garnet Coleman gave a health care legislative update held by the Fort Bend County Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, Oct. 22.

Mike Dotson, who serves as the chamber’s health care division chair, served as moderator during the lunchtime virtual event.

Voicing concerns over rising COVID-19 cases in Texas, Coleman said state governments have to function with balanced budgets and therefore depend on the federal government for areas like testing and for funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act to help businesses during the pandemic.

Fort Bend County needs to do more to address testing people who have health conditions that put them at higher risk for death or complications if they develop COVID-19, Coleman said, adding that Texas could have expanded Medicaid temporarily to support testing for families whose budgets really have no room to pay for testing. Coleman also expressed concern that some people who have survived COVID-19 may face chronic conditions and need care indefinitely.

He said education is important, that communities must “continue to explain the symptoms, continue to explain how you get exposed, continue to explain that those lucky enough to be able to work from home, work from home.”

He said as students have different needs, schools need to be able to adapt teaching to help those that are immunocompromised. Dotson said on its face, online learning sounds straight forward, but issues like not having enough internet bandwidth in communities or enough computers for students can complicate matters. Coleman explained that he is eager to get back into session to explore ideas like tax credits for internet connections to help families that may be struggling to provide for their children in that area.

When Dotson brought up the elderly, Coleman said depression resulting from isolation and loneliness can be a real issue and that checking in on older people is critical. Coleman emphasized the importance of elderly people’s ability to safely get care for their health conditions and said they need to be aware of Medicare’s enrollment period, which is going on through Monday, Dec. 7, so they can provide for their health needs.

“The reality is that people need affordable care that where they can get their prescription drugs and the different things that they need, without gap issues. That, to me, is important,” Coleman said.

He encouraged people who have lost their jobs because of the pandemic to take a good look at taking health care coverage through the Affordable Care Act because it will be less expensive than coverage through COBRA. The open enrollment for 2021 ACA coverage is Sunday, Nov. 1, through Tuesday, Dec. 15.

Coleman said during the next session, he plans to work to make sure nonprofit organizations that are helping with issues like housing and

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