‘They’re working hard just to get by’: Texas congressman leads push for open enrollment

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — As open enrollment approaches for health coverage in 2022, there’s a push to get more Texans covered.

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, is leading this outreach effort. He said Texas is near the top of the list for the most people without health insurance in the country.

Foundation Communities, a nonprofit organization that provides resources and assistance to those seeking health insurance, held a press conference a few days before open enrollment to begin the conversation with Doggett, Travis County Judge Andy Brown and Austin City Councilwoman Vanessa Fuentes.

Austin musician James Booker kicked off a press conference with an intimate live performance.

“Yeah, that’s definitely a first,” Booker said with a smile. After catching everyone’s attention with his outstanding talent, he shared his story of how seeking help with affordable health insurance changed his life.

“The first time I had a seizure, I didn’t have health insurance,” Booker said. “And I didn’t get to do any of the aftercare. I just hoped I wouldn’t have another one.”

But Booker had one more. And he found himself prone to seizures. He said doctors still don’t know why.

“I woke up in my living room, 911 was there,” Booker said. “Pretty crazy expensive. So second time insurance was really the only reason I was able to pull through.’

The Health Alliance for Austin Musicians (HAAM), in partnership with Foundation Communities, was able to help Booker create an affordable plan. Giving Texans equal access to that is something Doggett says is important.

“Thanks in part to the work we’ve done in Congress to stop the same people who have refused to pass Obamacare all along, we’ve made some changes that will make health insurance more affordable and cheaper this year than it has been in the past,” Doggett said.

Doggett said there are about half a billion people in Texas who are eligible for free coverage on the marketplace right now.

“A lot of these people aren’t going to get it because they’re working hard just to get by,” Doggett said. “They don’t know about these opportunities.”

There are local groups like Foundation Communities that can help you work with your options.

Booker hopes you don’t wait until it’s too late. Because it almost was for him.

“It’s really easy to take health for granted,” Booker said. “That was me.”

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