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Even after COVID ravaged Texans of color, the Lege let a bill die that would deal with health inequalities

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A woman receives her COVID-19 vaccination at the city's Alamodome site. - COURTESY / CITY OF SAN ANTONIO
  • Courtesy / City of San Antonio
  • A woman receives her COVID-19 vaccination at the city's Alamodome site.
Chalk up one more casualty to the Texas GOP lawmakers' divisive agenda this legislative session: a state agency that would have worked to solve health inequities across the state.

During 2017 budget cuts, the Legislature defunded the Office of Minority Health Statistics and Engagement, which was created to look at how health inequalities affected various groups, including racial minorities.

Health experts and Democratic lawmakers had hoped the pandemic, which disproportionately affected people of color, would prompt the Lege to find funding for an agency that could track such data and offer solutions.

Ain't gonna happen.

A bill by Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston to create an Office of Health Equity died this week in Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick's Texas Senate, the Texas Tribune reports.

Coleman's House Bill 4139 passed in the House along a near party-line vote, but it didn't move forward in the Senate in time to meet an important deadline. Coleman told the Trib the measure floundered because Republicans, eager to spend the session fighting the culture war, bogged it down in debate.

“Two different things going on: There’s this idea that this is part of critical race theory, and then there’s this idea that the use of ‘gender’ meant transgender health," he said. "For those two reasons, that’s why the bill didn’t move forward.”

HB 4139's failure comes in a session when the Legislature also failed to pass a Medicaid expansion that would have benefitted the nearly one in five Texans who don't have health insurance — the highest rate of uninsured residents in the nation.

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