Uninsured rates are high in Texas, and it’s worse in the Rio Grande Valley.

A national, state and district lawmaker all came together in Edinburg, for a much needed conversation on healthcare, with the Texas Tribune moderating.

“Healthcare has been a politically charged topic since the initiation of the Affordable Care Act in 2010,” said Congressman Filemon Vela in an interview with KVEO Marlane Rodriguez. 

Texas still has the highest uninsured rate of any state, with 4.5 million people living without health coverage, and in the Rio Grande Valley, the uninsured rate is twice that of the state as a whole.

“We have issues with CHIP right now and upcoming funding levels and what we’re going to do if it’s not renewed,” said State Representative Oscar Longoria. 

“We always have the Medicaid issues as well and finding out what’s going to be funded, what’s not going to be funded and who’s going to qualify and who’s not going to qualify,” Longoria said. 

Solving the doctor shortage is another problem, addressing that shortage will require training and retaining more physicians in Texas. 

UT-RGV’s medical school, is part of the solution.

“For us the medical school is a game changer, it will educate more doctors. This is a medically underserved area,” said State Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa. 

Lawmakers highlighted that properly funding health care requires contributions from federal, state and local governments, but that funding is uncertain.

“Washington has been pretty chaotic with the failure of the Republican majority to initiate any really significant changes to the Affordable Care Act,” Vela said. 

Hurricane Harvey hasn’t helped, the costs associated with rebuilding are expected to top $200 billion which will add to the challenges of funding health care at the state level.

But, lawmakers are still ongoing on their efforts to reform health care and its impact on the state. 

The Texas tribune will continue to host events across the state, in an effort to keep a dialogue open on important issues.