Having 6 million uninsured Texans is bad for the state, its employers, our economy, and all taxpayers.
It is imperative that our state leaders work collaboratively to develop ways to reduce the number of uninsured and help them become good consumers of health care, by doing things such as utilizing a primary care medical home rather than through an emergency room. There currently is an unprecedented opportunity to draw down additional federal funds to make this possible, and we must not squander it. Covering 3-4 million currently uninsured Texans is possible over the next few years, while not “breaking the bank.”
I support efforts made by state senators and representatives from both parties to find a truly “Texas Solution” to cover the very low-income adults and working citizens who represent most of those 6 million uninsured. That Texas solution should include:
- expanding the use of managed care organizations (MCOs)— private coverage—to provide choices of health plans for newly covered individuals, help control costs, and improve access and health outcomes for enrollees,
- creating a state-specific health insurance marketplace that incorporates new enrollees, as well as those eligible for subsidies under the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance exchange,
- copayments and other cost-sharing mechanisms on a sliding scale for newly eligible adults to build personal accountability for health, as well as low-cost wellness initiatives,
- keeping Texas families together in the same health plan as their incomes change, and avoiding losing coverage due to sudden sharp changes in cost,
- requiring MCOs to commit to long-term improvements in quality and cost-containment,
- more collaborative relationships between MCOs and health care providers that include incentives for cost-efficiency and improved outcomes—pay for performance,
- reducing uncompensated care by our provider partners, and
- reducing administrative burdens on enrollees and providers, including consolidation of multiple, fragmented programs and funding streams.
Texas is the home of heroes. Now is the time for heroic Texas leaders to transform our state from having the highest rate of uninsured (6 million) to pioneering a flexible Texas-style solution that protects Texas’ hard-working families and adults, and Texas’ future, our children.
Many of us are on the ground every day working to improve access to high-quality health care, and we are seeing positive results. Working together, we can get it done in this legislative session.