As Texans, we know that having 25% of our residents not having health insurance is bad for them and for the Texas economy, yet for the past few years we have become stuck in politics over policy.
The legislature has known for years that 6 million uninsured Texans is bad, and has in the past worked creatively to try to expand coverage.
- In the 80th legislative session (2007), we passed SB 10 authorizing HHSC to seek a Medicaid[RP1] waiver to implement the Texas Opportunity Pool to provide premium assistance to reduce the number of uninsured. Unfortunately, that waiver never was implemented.
- In the 81st session (2009), SB 78 created a new “Healthy Texas” program to expand coverage through small employers not previously offering coverage. Unfortunately, that program has been suspended due to lack of state funding.
- In the 82nd session (2011), HB 13 and SB 7 again authorized HHSC to negotiate a Medicaid waiver to encourage private health benefits coverage rather than expanding the old public Medicaid system. That waiver has been very successful in drawing down additional federal funds, expanding private managed care programs, and creating the opportunity for many improvements in our safety net delivery system.
- In the 83rd session (2013), SB 7 once more was a vehicle to expand private, managed care benefit plans to more Texans, shrinking the traditional Medicaid program.
Unfortunately, in the middle of these systemic improvements, we began to suffer Obamacare paralysis.