Still on the Table

The broad push to provide segments of the five million uninsured Texans with more coverage options is still active this session. Texas legislators still have an opportunity during this regular legislative session to adopt proposals outlined in the Speaker’s Healthy Families, Healthy Texas plan and make available improved health coverage options to the uninsured, such as:

  • House Bill 133 by Representative Toni Rose (D-Dallas), which has bipartisan support, would expand Medicaid coverage for new mothers from two months to a full year after birth. This change, which Rep. Rose has championed for several years, comes after a recommendation from the state’s Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review Commission. Texas 2036’s Health Coverage Policy Explorer anticipates this bill would result in the equivalent of 140,000 additional covered Texas mothers.
  • House Bill 290 by Representative Philip Cortez (D-San Antonio) would provide twelve months of Medicaid eligibility for children without additional financial review, reducing the costly and onerous verification process. As of 2018, there were approximately 856,000 Texas children among the uninsured. HHSC data shows that at least 30 percent of children flagged for mid-year removals from Texas’ Medicaid program are incorrectly flagged.
  • House Bill 3752 by Representative James Frank (R-Wichita Falls) and House Bill 3924 by Representative Tom Oliverson (R-Houston) would allow the Texas Mutual Plan and the Texas Farm Bureau to offer health coverage options to Texans. These options could be especially attractive to many of the 1.2 million uninsured Texans who are not eligible for Medicaid or Affordable Care Act Marketplace subsidies (as of 2018).
  • Senate Bill 1296 by Senator Nathan Johnson (D-Dallas) would empower Texas to conduct a focused rate review of the insurance plans offered to Texans through the Affordable Care Act Marketplace. The net impact would be to reduce net premiums for millions of Texans, making coverage more attainable by making premiums more affordable for the nearly two million uninsured Texans who are currently eligible for subsidies but haven’t signed up for an ACA plan. Even before the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) became law earlier this year, the Texas 2036 Health Coverage Policy Explorer estimated that approximately 215,000 additional Texans would more than likely sign up for coverage. With ARPA, the direct impact of a focused rate review could be even greater and would also benefit many of the approximately 1.3 million Texans already enrolled in a plan through the exchange.

In the waning days of this session, these bills provide an opportunity for Texas legislators to make progress on increasing access to health care coverage, and can be built upon by an interim commission. To identify policy options that address Texans’ access to health coverage, we must all focus on the data and be willing to examine all the tools in the toolkit.

Through thoughtful, data-driven, outcome-focused actions, we can create an effective, sustainable, Texas-specific solution that improves the lives of millions of Texans.

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