Nearly 20 percent of uninsured Texans have no access to affordable coverage through their employers and are not income-eligible for public coverage. The result is that more than 1.1 million uninsured, low-wage working Texans rely on hospital emergency departments for acute care. This care costs Texas hospitals more than $5.5 billion each year. Some of this unreimbursed cost is shifted onto the privately insured who pay higher insurance premiums and to local property owners who pay higher taxes. Texas employers pay a price too because an unhealthy workforce has reduced productivity and increased turnover.
Throughout the legislative session, THA advocated for a Texas Way that would be a private health insurance alternative to Medicaid expansion for uninsured Texans not income-eligible for Medicaid under existing eligibility standards and with incomes below 138 percent of the federal poverty level. The Texas Way included a number of features designed to appeal to conservative lawmakers, including personal responsibility, cost sharing, health saving s accounts and incentives for employment. Democratic lawmakers introduced Texas Way bills, but despite interest from a number of other lawmakers and broad public support, neither bill received a committee hearing.
During the interim, THA will continue to promote the need for a coverage solution to reduce the number of uninsured Texans and the growing uncompensated care burden.
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