Today I filed comments opposing the Perry administration’s proposed regulations for Affordable Care Act “Navigators”. Here in Fort Worth that mostly means the good people at the United Way of Tarrant County. These burdensome regulations would require that Navigators complete an additional 40 hours of unnecessary state training on top of the 20-30 hours of federal training they already receive. This “training” is estimated to cost as much as $800 per person, which will be billed to the non-profit organizations.
One of my responsibilities as a legislator is to act as a watchdog on the Perry administration, so I regularly file open records requests to expose wrong-doing or just plain wrong decisions by state agencies. In a recent request, I uncovered secret Perry administration documents that show that these training requirements – the toughest in the nation – were the result of political influence by certain prominent state officials, not a desire to actually provide good training!
The Perry administration is refusing to let me release these documents, but I will continue to fight back until the truth can be revealed. I’ve already spoken out against these regulations in the Star-Telegram, and now I have put them on notice that if they try to move forward with the regulations, the documents I uncovered could be used in a lawsuit to stop them.
Here in Fort Worth, I have already conducted 10 community forums to help people understand how to access affordable health care. We have just organized 3 more workshops in the coming weeks to be conducted in both English and Spanish. Please join us if you or someone you care about is currently uninsured. Even if you don’t qualify for subsidized insurance under the Affordable Care Act, we will have people from local non-profits there who can help you find the health care you need.
Upcoming Affordable Care Act Workshops
- Saturday, January 18th, 9:00AM to noon, Poly High School, 1300 Conner Ave. In English and Spanish.
- Saturday, February 1st, 9:30AM, Los Pastores Restaurant, 3812 E. Rosedale St. In Spanish.
- Wednesday, February 5th, 5:30PM (Spanish) and 7:00PM (English), 1100 N.W. 18th St.
My office can also help you schedule a one-on-one session with a health insurance expert to sign up for an Affordable Care Act insurance policy, Medicaid, Medicare or the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Call us at 817-924-1997.
- Learn About Coverage and How to Sign up at Upcoming Burnam Obamacare Events
The website problems are being fixed and you can now sign up for Obamacare if you do not currently have insurance. I will continue hold these workshops as part of my commitment to getting the people of District 90 healthcare.
- Saturday, Dec. 14th, 9:30AM (Primarily in Spanish)
Los Pastores Restaurant located at 3822 E. Rosedale St.
- Monday, Dec. 16th, 5:30 PM (Primarily in Spanish)
Sycamore Community Center located at 2525 E. Rosedale St.
- Monday, Dec. 16th, 7:00 PM (Primarily in English)
Also at Sycamore Community Center
Tuesday, November 5th is the LAST DAY to vote for the Fort Worth school bonds, which would bring universal pre-K to our city. Voting runs from 7AM to 7PM and you can find your polling place here or by calling Tarrant County Elections at 817-831-8683.
The most important thing you can do to support our schools this year is to vote “YES” in the school bond election. These propositions will fail if our community does not turn out to support our schools and SUPPORT OUR 80,000 students! They need your help so please join us in voting YES for the Fort Worth school bonds.
- Rep. Lon Burnam and FWISD Trustee Jacinto Ramos
PROPOSITION 1: $386.6 million for
- universal pre-kindergarten for 4-year olds
- additional classrooms for our growing schools
- improvements to older schools including kitchens, security & technology.
PROPOSITION 2: $73.3 million for
- two schools serving grades 6-12
- a fine arts academy
- a STEM academy (science, technology, engineering & math).
PROPOSITION 3: $30 million for
- projects like repairing and replacing buses and instruments for school bands.
Rep. Lon Burnam, Congressman Marc Veasey, County Commissioner Roy Brooks and Fort Worth schools trustee Jacinto Ramos will be holding the first in a series of workshops in neighborhoods around Fort Worth to help people enroll in Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) insurance plans as well as finding other healthcare resources.
Anyone with healthcare needs should attend, especially anyone who does not have employer-sponsored health insurance and has an income under $94,200 (for a family of four) or $45,960 (for an individual), as you may be eligible for financial assistance in purchasing health insurance.
Because about one million Texans make too much to qualify for Texas’ current Medicaid program, but not enough to qualify for the Affordable Care Act plans – the “donut hole” that would have been covered by the federal Medicaid expansion funding that Governor Perry rejected – there will also be representatives from several health care organizations that provide free or reduced-cost care.
The first four workshops, all from 6:30PM to 8:00PM, will be held:
- Tuesday, October 22nd, Como Community Center, 4900 Horne St.
- Wednesday, October 23rd, Texas Wesleyan, Lou’s Place, 1112 Wesleyan St.
- Monday, October 28th, Moncrief Cancer Center, 400 W. Magnolia
- Tuesday, October 29th, Boys and Girls Club North Branch, 2000 Ellis Ave.
If you have any questions about the events, please call Rep. Burnam’s district office at 817-924-1997. For general questions about Obamacare, visit www.Healthcare.gov or call 1-800-318-2596.
Rep. Burnam explained the workshops – and what Governor Perry is doing to try and sabotage healthcare for working class and middle class Texans – in this recent Fort Worth Star-Telegram piece.
From an op-ed published in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on October 2nd, 2013:
Many of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) kicked in on Tuesday, including the ability to purchase health insurance in an online marketplace and get financial assistance.
A family of four with an income of $35,000 can obtain decent health insurance for about $114 per month, and assistance is available for individuals making up to $45,960 or family of four making $94,200.
You would think the leaders of Texas, who serve a state where one in four people have no health insurance — the highest uninsured rate in the nation — would be overjoyed. That’s what makes Gov. Rick Perry’s recent action to sabotage the whole thing so bizarre.
Purchasing insurance and signing up for financial benefits can be complicated, so the launch of Obamacare included grants to local governments and established charities like Tarrant County United Way to train “navigators” to help people find their way through the process.
But two weeks ago, the governor asked the Texas Department of Insurance to impose regulations on these navigators that would create a tangled web of rules and red tape to make their jobs much harder.
I have tried to figure out why Perry of all people would suddenly develop a love affair with government regulation.
He must have known that his proposals directly violated federal and state laws, so it is difficult to escape the conclusion that he is deliberately trying to prevent people from finding out about their benefits under Obamacare.
People might decide they like Obamacare if they find out about their benefits. That might be a political problem for him, but for Perry to let politics stand in the way of Texans receiving health insurance is unconscionable and a betrayal of the very idea of being a public servant.
Fortunately, the people of Tarrant County have some elected officials who understand their needs. U.S. Rep. Marc Veasy, Tarrant County Commissioner Roy Brooks, Fort Worth school trustee Jacinto Ramos and I will be holding neighborhood-level workshops across Fort Worth to help people get enrolled in Obamacare and find other healthcare services.
We have already scheduled the first four, with more to come.
Healthcare is the critical issue facing Texas right now, for our leaders and our residents.
Earlier this year, Perry turned down as much as $100 billion from the federal government over the next 10 years to cover more of our working poor under Medicaid health insurance, with a 9-to-1 match for state dollars.
The next governor could accept that funding with the stroke of her pen on her first day in office and bring health insurance to as many as 1.5 million Texans, including 56,000 here in Tarrant County. It would effectively abolish the current, expensive practice of the uninsured delaying medical care until they are so sick they go to hospital emergency rooms.
The people of Fort Worth pay for this inefficient model through higher health insurance premiums and our hospital district taxes, with an average tax bill of $334 per year. So putting the uninsured on Medicaid would not only save everyone money, but I have been advised that our hospital districts could actually roll back taxes.
That’s right. Accepting Obamacare could mean a property tax cut.
It is up to our next governor to decide whether to continue the obstructionism of Rick Perry or to leave Washington-style hot air behind to do the right thing to serve the people of Texas.
It’s not about politics or ideology.
It’s simple accounting, which is why so many businesses and virtually every large chamber of commerce in Texas support the expansion of Medicaid.
Until then, come down to one of our Obamacare workshops or learn about your benefits at www.HealthCare.gov or by calling 1-800-318-2596. You can also call my Fort Worth office at any time at 817-924-1997.
State Rep. Lon Burnam represents District 90 in Fort Worth.
The State of Texas is currently considering applications for new charter schools in Texas. Unfortunately, changes made by the 2013 Legislature removed the ability of the public to testify at hearings on those applications, making submitted comments very important because they are the only way to inform the Texas Education Agency and the State Board of Education of the consequences those charters might have on our local communities.
When I heard that the application process was being rushed and that school districts and even legislators, not to mention the general public, were given only a few days to comment on applications, I quickly protested to Education Commissioner Michael Williams and the State Board of Education.
I am happy to say that on Friday, September 13, Commissioner Williams graciously granted my request for more time and will not be making a decision until September 27. After that, the State Board has 90 days to overturn any charter approval, which they will likely consider at their November 20-22, 2013 meeting.
It is vital that local officials, school districts and community members submit comments to Commissioner Williams on the charters applying to operate in their area! Not only are the charters organizations of varying quality, but they could potentially draw millions of dollars a year from a school district whose children they enroll (up to $27 million in Fort Worth!).
Below are two of my most recent “Ed Alert” education newsletters, my letter to Commissioner Williams, and a list of the charter applications and the areas they are looking to serve. You can find the full text of the applications here (you will have to search for the right one) and here is how to reach the Commissioner and Board:
Commissioner of Education: email@example.com
His decision will be made on September 27, 2013.
State Board of Education: firstname.lastname@example.org
The State Board will meet on November 20-22, 2013
If you would like to subscribe to my “Ed Alert” newsletter, please email me at Lon@Lonburnam.com.
- Ed Alert Vol. 31, Sept. 16, 2013-More Time for Charter Comments
- Ed Alert Vol. 30, Sept. 11, 2013-Charter Application Hearings
- List of charter applications and their service areas
- Rep. Burnam letter to Commissioner Williams on Charter Interviews 09-10-2013
- American Federation of Teachers-Texas: “Commissioner’s Charter Decisions Delayed to Allow More Comments, Scrutiny,” Sept. 13, 2013.
- American Federation of Teachers-Texas: “Questions for Charter Applicants Point Up Need for Quality Control,” Sept. 12, 2013.
- American Federation of Teachers-Texas: “New Process of State Charter Approval in Effect Now—and It Has Some Problems,” Sept. 11, 2013.
- “Burnam: New Charter Approval Process Leaves Public in the Dark,” Texas Observer, Sept. 12, 2013.
AUSTIN – Today, sixteen members of the Texas House of Representatives issued a letter to Major General John F. Nichols, urging him to rescind his decision to not process military spousal benefit claims for same-gender spouses of Texas National Guard service men and women, in contravention of a Department of Defense policy. The representatives cited the fact that seventeen other states with similar statutory and/or constitutional bans on marriage equality have decided to process such applications. Mississippi is the only other state whose national guard shares Texas’ interpretation.
As the letter states:
“Clearly, this is a matter of legal interpretation, and the vast majority of your counterparts around the country operating under similar state laws have arrived at one that allows these spouses their federally guaranteed benefits. We call on you to respect Texas’ military families, to reconsider your position, and to follow the lead of virtually every other Adjutant General for the National Guard of the United States by, without further delay, enrolling all eligible spouses of National Guard service members at facilities operated by Texas Military Forces.”
The representatives noted that the General had asked the Attorney General for an opinion on the issue, but pointed out that this bureaucratic hurdle could take months, denying military personnel their legal benefits:
“It is our understanding that you have sought legal guidance on this matter from the Texas Attorney General. Since it could take several months to receive a response, we ask that you conduct enrollment of eligible spouses during this review process.”
The representatives also asked if the General had received any guidance from the Governor’s office on the matter.
Rep. Lon Burnam (D-Fort Worth), who coordinated the release of the letter, said, “The General’s first duty here should be towards protecting the families of our service members, not protecting an archaic, anti-freedom state law. I think he needs to reexamine his priorities.”
Other members of the Texas House of Representatives signing onto the letter include: Rep. Garnet Coleman, Rep. Joe Farias, Rep. Jessica Farrar, Rep. Mary E. González, Rep. Ana Hernandez Luna, Rep. Armando “Mando” Martinez, Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon, Rep. Poncho Nevárez, Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, Rep. Senfronia Thompson, Rep. Chris Turner, Rep. Sylvester Turner, Rep. Mike Villarreal, Rep. Armando Walle, Rep. Gene Wu and Rep. Carol Alvarado.
- Letter from Rep. Burnam and fifteen members of the Texas House to Texas Military Forces
- Memo from Texas Military Forces on Same-Gender Benefits – Includes list of federal facilities where Texas National Guard servicemembers can apply for benefits!