It Must Be Repealed and Replaced to Stop the Harm Being Inflicted on Americans

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) tonight debated Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in a CNN Town Hall regarding the future of Obamacare. President Obama’s Affordable Care Act was sold to the American people as a solution to steadily increasing healthcare costs and insurance premiums, and a means to provide health insurance to all Americans. While the government did succeed in mandating that all Americans purchase health insurance (or be fined), the law has increased costs, decreased access, taken away patients’ choices in health care, and failed to improve health outcomes.

In other words, Obamacare has failed to deliver on its promises. In order to stop the harm being done to hardworking Americans, it must be completely repealed and replaced with market-based reforms that will expand access, provide greater choices, and lower the cost of care and insurance.

Obamacare has failed the American people. It has:

  • Increased taxes
    • Obamacare imposed over $1 trillion in tax hikes (CBO).
  • Enriched insurers while saddling families with greater costs
    • In 2008, the combined annual profits of America’s ten largest health insurance companies were about $8.3 billion. Under Obamacare, in 2015 the ten largest health insurers’ annual profits rose to almost $15 billion, an 80 percent increase
    • Meanwhile, from 2008 to 2016, average annual employer-sponsored family premiums increased 43 percent, from $12,680 to $18,142. The average worker share over the same time period increased 57 percent, from $3,354 to $5,277. And from 2008 to 2015, average family deductibles on the individual market increased 181 percent, from $2,760 to $7,760.
  • Increased health care spending
    • Total health care spending in the US was 2.4 trillion or $7,868 per person in 2008 (Kaiser Family Foundation). In 2013, it was $3.2 trillion or $9,900 per person. CMS That’s an $800 million increase in spending.
    • Share of GDP devoted to health care spending was 16.6 percent in 2008 (Kaiser Family Foundation). In 2015, it was 17.5 percent (The Fiscal Times) 
  • Increased insurance deductibles
    • 155 million Americans – including over 13 million Texans – with job-based health care coverage are facing higher premiums and higher deductibles (Kaiser Family Foundation).
    • From 2013-2017, the average deductible for individuals on the individual market has increased 30 percent ($3,319 to $4,328). eHealth
    • From 2013-2017, the average deductible for families on the individual market has increased 97 percent ($4,230 to $8,352). eHealth
  • Increased insurance premiums
    • From 2013-2017, average nationwide monthly premiums for individuals on the individual market have increased 99 percent ($197 to $393). eHealth
    • From 2013-2017, average nationwide monthly premiums for families on the individual market have increased 140 percent ($426 to $1,021). eHealth
    • From 2010-2016, average family premiums on the employer-sponsored market have increased almost 32 percent (Kaiser Family Foundation)
  • Decreased choice and competition
  • 70 percent of U.S. counties have only one or two insurers offering coverage on the exchange in 2017. The Heritage Foundation
  • The 2017 exchanges are 45 percent less competitive than the individual market was before Obamacare. The Heritage Foundation

In Texas….

  • Before Obamacare, 18 insurers participated in Texas. Today, 10 insurers are participating in the Texas exchange, a 44 percent decrease.
  • 86 percent of Texas counties have only one or two insurers selling exchange coverage.
  • Broken Promises
  • President Obama promised that premiums would decline by $2,500 per year; instead, by 2015 average premiums in job-based coverage increased by $3,775. Kaiser Family Foundation
  • Politifact named President Obama’s promise that “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it” under Obamacare the Lie of the Year for 2013. Obama repeated this lie at least 37 times. Politifact


Would cost $2.5 trillion in 2017; Four times what U.S. Will Spend on the Military in 2017

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) tonight debated Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in a CNN Town Hall regarding the future of Obamacare.  Sen. Sanders has proposed a “Medicare for All” government-run, universal health care system. His plan promises free, unlimited health care coverage for all Americans. The problem is – just as Obamacare has proven – such promises are impossible to fulfill and will worsen healthcare delivery and outcomes across the country.

Sen. Sanders claims his plan would require an additional $15 trillion in taxes.  According to the Urban Institute, under this Medicare for All plan, federal spending would increase by about $2.5 trillion in 2017 and by about $32 trillion over the next decade.  This spending would essentially triple every American household’s income taxes.  Additionally, $2.5 trillion is more than the market value of Apple ($677B), Google ($557B), Microsoft ($494B), Facebook ($384B), and AT&T ($258B) combined. The government could tax the income of those making $1 million or more at 100 percent and only collect an additional $983 billion—less than half what would be required to pay for the plan for one year.

The Urban Institute report notes, “The increase in federal spending is so large because the federal government would absorb a substantial amount of current spending by state and local governments, employers, and households. In addition, federal spending would be needed for newly covered individuals, expanded benefits and the elimination of cost sharing for those insured under current law, and the new long-term support and services program.”

On top of the unsustainable costs that would be incurred from government-run, universal health coverage, free-market competition and innovation would be eliminated. The government would become the sole distributor of health care, which would further narrow patient choices and degrade the quality of care available. Other countries that have adopted similar universal plans have experienced a decline in quality of care, exposing patients to long wait times and even denial of care in many cases:

  • In the United Kingdom:
    • The average wait time in 2013 was 72 days for cataract surgery, 89 days for a hip replacement, and 95 days for a knee replacement.
    • Data has shown that older patients are less likely to receive surgery for cancer treatment than younger ones. A 2011 report noted that only 39 percent of women over 80 in the UK receive surgery for breast cancer, compared to 90 percent of women under 50 (Macmillan Cancer Support).
  • In Canada:
    • Specialist physicians surveyed report a median waiting time of 20 weeks between referral from a general practitioner and receipt of treatment—longer than the wait of 18.3 weeks reported in 2015.
    • 2016’s wait time—the longest ever recorded in this survey’s history—is 115% longer than in 1993, when it was just 9.3 weeks.
  • In Denmark:
    • The average wait time in 2014 was 83 days for cataract surgery, 55 days for a hip replacement, and 59 days for a knee replacement (OECD).
  • In Norway:
    • The average wait time in 2013 was 128 days for cataract surgery, 154 days for a hip replacement, and 183 days for a knee replacement (OECD). 
  • In Sweden:
    • In 2015, 11 percent of patients on the waiting list waited more than 3 months for cataract surgery (OECD).
    • In 2015, 19 percent of patients on the waiting list waited more than 3 months for a knee replacement (OECD).

The state-of-the-art facility takes working out to a new level

KATY – By taking the best designs from YMCA centers around the nation and incorporating them into one 41,000 square-foot facility, the YMCA of Greater Houston has responded to Katy’s burgeoning population with extra modern amenities and a sleek, airy design.

After nine months of construction, the YMCA at Katy Main Street, 1350 Main St., will open its doors on Saturday and offer the latest exercise crazes including TRX and aerial yoga. Its outdoor pool is heated and connected to private changing rooms.

Those are just some of the special features at the $12 million center. The center is expected to be a hub for Katy’s growing needs for child care, health and fitness, and educational programs.

Located at the intersection of Main Street and Kingsland Boulevard (near Interstate 10 and Pin Oak Road), the two-story facility aims to serve residents in west and north Katy and in neighboring communities.

“One amazing thing about the YMCA is the scope of our work, which can be seen at all of our centers, but is especially evident in ever-expanding Katy,” said Paul McEntire, president and CEO of The YMCA of Greater Houston. “Katy’s population is expected to grow from 300,000 people to nearly 550,000 by 2035. In just three years, this new center is expected to serve 20,000 people.”

The YMCA at Katy Main Street features strength training and cardio equipment, group exercise rooms, a basketball gym, Child Watch rooms to accommodate children from six weeks to 11 years old, an outdoor playground and sports fields, a cycle studio and coffee bar. It also includes health and wellness activities, aquatics, youth sports, after-school care, summer day camp, summer sports clinics, teen programs, senior activities and more.

The Monty Ballard YMCA at Cinco Ranch is currently the largest provider of child care in the Katy area, serving more than 1,500 children each year at before- and after-school care sites in Katy Independent School District. It also offers the YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program and LIVESTRONG for those recovering from cancer. In addition, more than 5,000 children participate in the center’s youth sports program. The center serves approximately 50,000 people.

Feasibility studies indicate that 3,000 new families will utilize the new YMCA at Katy Main Street, and that 1,000 current family memberships would relocate for the convenience of the new location.

The new center is expected to receive more than 400,000 visits a year. Projected to be self-sustaining in 12 to 18 months, it will provide approximately $250,000 in community assistance and program/membership scholarships as well as create more than 200 area jobs.

“People need the YMCA at Katy Main Street for their health, for social interaction, and to improve their spirits,” said Brian Haines, district executive director at the YMCA of Greater Houston. “We will make sure we stay true to our commitment to make sure that no one is ever turned away.”

SUGAR LAND—(February 3, 2017)—A caregiver is someone who has taken on the very selfless role of caring for a loved one. Many times, the caregiver has the great responsibility of making sure their loved one’s basic needs are met, which requires work and dedication.

By taking care of his or her own needs, the caregiver will be able to better care for those who depend on them. Powerful Tools for Caregivers® is an educational program to help family and friends caring for older adults with long-term health conditions.

The free seminar consists of six classes, each of which focuses on different tools that will help guide the caregiver through the caregiving journey. You will learn about setting goals, staying motivated and dealing with feelings of anger, guilt and depression, giving you the increased confidence and ability to cope with the demands of caregiving.

This six-week course begins Monday, Feb. 20 and runs through Monday, March 27.  Classes are held every Monday from 2:30–4:30 p.m. in the Brazos Pavilion Chapel, first floor, at Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital. Registration is required. For more information or to register, contact the Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital Spiritual Care Department at or 281.274.7164. Seating is limited.

By Wyatt Fraas,, Center for Rural Affairs

This is a time of tremendous opportunity in farming and ranching for beginners graduating from college or looking to start a venture of their own. Alternative crops and high value markets offer profit potential and lower risk for new farmers.

If land ownership is the preferred route, funding will have to come from savings, bootstrapping, investors/partners, or loans. There are no grants, or free money, for farm startup and operation.

Many beginners find financing at the USDA Farm Service Agency, which has the lowest interest rate and programs for beginners, women, veterans, and minorities. Other lenders may be willing to deal with the extra risk that beginners present, and would eventually be the “graduation” goal for USDA Farm Service Agency borrowers.

Land ownership isn’t the only way to have a farm business. Renting land is a viable option and represents a lower cost than ownership. Rental or temporary land access may open up other options. Vacant urban lots, unused commercial property, or acreages may be places to start farming. Opportunity may lie in being creative.

One beginner located small pasture parcels that larger farmers didn’t want to mess with. He sub-rented these parcels, then hauled water and used temporary fence to move his cattle herd from place to place. Landowners noticed his hard work and care of these properties, and in a few years, offered full farms to him to rent.

Resources, such as a discussion of financing strategies, can be found on our website,

Wyatt Fraas, Center for Rural Affairs’ Farm and Community Assistant Director, has spent 20 years advising landowners and beginning farmers on farm asset and business transfer.



The Fort Bend County Health & Human Services’ Public Health Emergency Preparedness Program has been recognized by the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) for its ability to plan for, respond to, and recover from public health emergencies.

Fort Bend County’s Health and Human Services Department received this honor by meeting 305  comprehensive preparedness benchmarks required by Project Public Health Ready (PPHR), a unique partnership between NACCHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This recognition confirms that Fort Bend County has a thorough and coordinated emergency response plan in place as well as the staff training required to protect the health of the community during an emergency.

Fort Bend County Judge Bob Hebert said, “The key to successful emergency management is proper planning.  It is always too late to stop and figure out what to do when an emergency arises. This national recognition of Fort Bend County’s Health and Human Services emergency program planning and preparedness effort reinforces my thinking that we are as fully prepared for public health emergency situations as we can be. I commend everyone who participates in this continuous effort to be prepared.”

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) is kicking off a statewide campaign to increase awareness about the dangers of adults co-sleeping with small children.

Over the last five months, 54 Texas children have died while sleeping with an adult or older child. In addition, Child Protective Services investigates an average of 170 cases a year involving children who die while sharing a bed with an adult or older child.

Starting this week, the DFPS Prevention and Early Intervention Program will run a public service campaign that includes seven consecutive months of mobile, online, and social media advertising – plus a three-week TV campaign in all Texas media markets. The TV spots start next week, featuring a new TV ad that you can watch now on the DFPS You Tube Channel.

Bed sharing, also known as co-sleeping, increases the risk of children, primarily infants, dying in their sleep. Infants should sleep:

  • Alone – Not with an adult, child, or animal. Bed sharing, which is sleeping with a baby on a bed, couch, floor, or in a chair, is dangerous.
  • On their back – Not on their side or tummy. Place babies on their backs for every sleep time, including naps and at night.
  • In a crib – Put babies on a firm surface, preferably in a safety-approved crib with a firm crib mattress covered by a fitted sheet. Do not use bedding (such as bumper pads, pillows, blankets) or allow clutter in the sleep environment (such as toys or stuffed animals). Safety-approved bassinets, play yards, and portable cribs are also acceptable.

The Texas Pediatrics Society says the safest place for a baby to sleep is in a crib or bassinet near a parent’s bed – not in a parent’s bed. Parents will find short video lessons, safe sleep tips, and statistics on bed-sharing on the campaign website,

Top prize: United Airline tickets, Royal Caribbean Cruise and a class trip to Schlitterbahn

AUSTIN – Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush is calling for entries in the 21st annual Adopt-A-Beach “Treasures of the Texas Coast” Children’s Art Contest. The deadline to submit artwork is Wednesday, March 1, 2017.

“Our vast coastline is truly a Texas treasure, yet many students across the state have not yet had the opportunity to see it up close,” said Commissioner Bush. “The ‘Treasures of the Texas Coast’ Children’s Art

Renee Tuggle, GLO Adopt-A-Beach Coordinator, shows Commissioner Bush previous art submissions

Contest is a great opportunity for kids across Texas to explore the coast and express their appreciation for its natural beauty and exotic wildlife in a creative manner. As a father and a former educator, I encourage parents and teachers to inspire students in kindergarten through 6th grade to participate.”

Commissioner Bush will select the grand prize winner. This year’s grand prize winner will receive two round-trip coach-class tickets from United Airlines to any United destination in the 48 contiguous United States, Alaska, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean, one 7-night Caribbean cruise from Royal Caribbean International departing out of Galveston, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Port Canaveral or Puerto Rico and a class party at Schlitterbahn Waterpark in New Braunfels.

2016 Adopt A Beach Art Contest winners were featured in the 2017 Treasures of the Texas Coast Calendar

The grand prize winner’s teacher will also receive two round-trip coach-class tickets from United Airlines, and one 7-night Caribbean cruise courtesy of Royal Caribbean International.

Ten winners will be chosen from each of four grade-level categories (K – 2nd, 3rd – 4th, 5th, and 6th). One grand prize winner will be chosen from the 40 finalists.  All 40 winners will receive a ticket to the Texas State Aquarium in Corpus Christi, a ticket to the Houston Zoo, two all-day passes to Schlitterbahn Waterpark in New Braunfels, a certificate of recognition and prizes from the Texas General Land Office and a calendar displaying the winning artwork.

Winning artwork will appear together in a 2018 calendar, which will be distributed across the state. The Adopt-A-Beach “Treasures of the Texas Coast” Children’s Art Contest began in 1996 to mark the 10th anniversary of the Adopt-A-Beach Program.  The annual competition encourages Texas schoolchildren to learn more about the Texas coast and express what they’ve learned through their art.

Commissioner Bush and his team review and select from thousands of art submission

Open to students in grades K-6 across Texas, the contest motivates thousands of young artists each year.  Only one entry per student is allowed, and all entries must have a completed parental release form taped to the back.  Parental release forms may be printed from the Land Office website located at Each contest entry must be postmarked by March 1, 2017.

Artwork must be displayed on a plain sheet of white 8 ½-inches by 11-inch paper and can be in any medium except computer generated.  Three-dimensional art or artwork displaying logos, product brands and/or store names is ineligible. Students are encouraged to color copy their artwork prior to sending it in because all artwork submitted becomes property of the Texas General Land Office and cannot be returned. This year’s contest sponsors are Royal Caribbean International, United Airlines, Schlitterbahn Waterparks, the Texas State Aquarium and the Houston Zoo.

For more information and contest guidelines on the “Treasures of the Texas Coast” 2017 Children’s Art Contest, please contact the General Land Office at 1-877-TXCOAST or visit our website at Like us on Facebook at or follow us on Twitter @TXAdoptABeach.




The 6th Annual Run to Attack Poverty 10K | 5K and Kid K presented by UT Physicians is expected to top organizers goals again! This family-focused, health-based run to support Attack Poverty is growing year over year says event coordinators.

Attack Poverty, established in 2009, is a global organization that serves locally, adopting pockets of poverty and launching what we call ‘Friends Initiatives’. These initiatives are long-term commitments that require mutual relationships and collaborative efforts with local organizations, churches, residents, corporations, and stakeholders committed to community transformation.  We serve in four communities, and annually we impact 3,050 unduplicated individuals with over 60% living in the highest concentration of poverty in Fort Bend County.  Our vision is to empower people to attack poverty in their life and community. We do that by strengthening under-resourced communities through spiritual growth, education, revitalization, and basic needs.  It’s about development not charity; a hand-up and not a hand-out!

The race route is through the neighborhood of North Richmond and includes two optional color splash stations and fun for the entire family. We have added a 10K run this year for the serious runners and those individuals getting ready for marathons and we’ve also added a Toddler Trot and Diaper Dash for the little ones as well. Last year we had mascots and cheerleaders cheering the little runners on including Sugar Land Skeeters’ Swatson, Andy the Armadillo, Dunkin Donuts’ Cuppie, H-E-Buddy, JCO Bear, WCJC’s Pioneer Dan and Scrubs from OakBend Medical Center encouraging the runners as they competed in the 1kilometer race. We are sure to see some of those mascots return again this year plus some new ones! The post-race party will include over 24 vendor booths and a Kid Zone will have inflatables, snacks, and prizes.

“We believe the community comes together in an unprecedented way each year for the Run to Attack Poverty 10K | 5K and Kid K presented by UT Physicians.   We are so grateful for our sponsors and volunteers that has made this event a huge success,” said President & CEO of Attack Poverty, Richard Logan.

This is UT Physicians’ 1st year to be the presenting sponsor for the Run to Attack Poverty and they are really excited to come alongside of Attack Poverty and support the community in alleviating poverty. UT Physician is located in Rosenberg at 5115 Avenue H Suite 701 where the old Luby’s used to be and they are health and wellness clinic that takes both insured and uninsured patients.

To register for the Run to Attack Poverty 10K | 5K and Kid K presented by UT Physicians you can visit the website at or contact the office at 832-847-4379. Sponsorship opportunities are available as well.