Yesterday, on the final day that the Senate was able to debate and pass bills, Texans for Vaccine Choice witnessed its most monumental victory to date. Senator Mayes Middleton laid out and finally passed HB 44, a bill authored on the House side by TFVC Champion Representative Valoree Swanson which prohibits government-contracted doctors from denying care to Medicaid and CHIP patients.
Since 2015, when Texans for Vaccine Choice was formed by a small group of passionate parents, we have received pleas from across the state to get a bill like this passed. These protections became even more important when, in 2016, Austin Regional Clinic (ARC), the largest Medicaid-contracted practice in Central Texas, instituted a policy which refused medical care to pediatric patients who are not vaccinated on schedule. This policy change at ARC had devastating ripple effects as practices across the state followed suit. Over the last 8 years, TFVC has collected unfortunate stories from countless supporters detailing experiences of their children being denied routine and life-saving care simply for making vaccination choices that best fit their needs.
Representative Swanson introduced a similar bill in the 87th Legislative Session that passed through Committee on the House side, yet ultimately ran out of time. TFVC is profoundly grateful that she prioritized this legislation in the 88th session and that Senator Bob Hall introduced a similar bill, as well.
The passage of HB 44 could not have been achieved without the tireless efforts of so many passionate parents, grandparents, advocates, activists, lawmakers and Capitol staff. Thank you to each of the TFVC supporters who participated in and shared our Action Alerts about this bill, who shared personal stories, and who made the trip to the Capitol to advocate for HB 44 during our Citizen Engagement Days! Special thanks to Representative Valoree Swanson and her hard-working team, as well as to Senator Mayes Middleton and his staff!