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House Committee Proposes Health-Care Reform

State

Texas state capitol in Austin | Image by Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

(The Center Square) – A select committee on health-care reform in the state House has proposed recommendations and drafted legislation for the state legislature to consider that it argues will reduce medical and prescription drug costs and expand transparency.

The interim report presented to the legislature was compiled by a bipartisan committee after its members conducted two public hearings.

Committee members include state Reps. Sam Harless, chair; Toni Rose, vice chair; Greg Bonnen, M.D.; John H. Bucy III, Giovanni Capriglione, James B. Frank, R.D. “Bobby” Guerra, Stephanie Klick, John Lujan, Tom Oliverson, M.D., and Armando Walle.

The 102-page report includes key testimony from experts, and their findings related to five charges. The first charge related to studying “the implications of excessive health care costs on the efficacy of Texas Medicaid and the private health insurance market and the resulting impact on individual Texans, businesses, and state government.”

Committee members evaluated and provided recommendations about health care affordability, transparency, competition, and patient incentives. They also made recommendations to expand access to health care price information to allow patients to make informed decisions about their care.

They also examined the impact of government benefits, administrative, and contractual mandates imposed on private insurance companies, and impacts on employer and consumer premiums and out-of-pocket costs. They made recommendations for state and agency-level mandates and regulations that could be relaxed or repealed to increase the availability and affordability of private health coverage options in Texas and reviewed access to and affordability of prescription drugs.

The second charge is related to monitoring the implementation and compliance with current price transparency requirements to determine how the state can better support patients and increase competition.

The third and fourth focused on expanding subsidized care to low-income and at-risk populations “to ensure Texans have access to affordable, quality, and comprehensive health care,” including identifying ways to improve outreach to eligible families to expand Medicaid or CHIP coverage.

The fifth examined the potential impact of delayed care on Texas’ health care delivery system, health care costs, and patient health outcomes, including evaluating patient delays in obtaining preventive and primary health services.

“The Select Committee was one of the most substantive of its kind that highlighted the root causes of many issues rather than surface-level ones commonly addressed,” David Balat, director of the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Right on Healthcare initiative, said. “The Committee did an outstanding job of providing solutions that will result in tremendous change in an opaque industry to the benefit of all Texans.”

Balat, who also co-authored a report to lower prescription drug costs nationwide, has proposed a series of reforms for Congress to consider, including codifying a 2019 price-transparency rule for hospitals and insurers, increasing penalties for non-compliance, ending tax-exempt status for non-profit hospitals that also receive taxpayer-funded reimbursements, requiring the Federal Trade Commission to review mergers and acquisitions among insurers and hospital systems to ensure they don’t limit competition and patient choices, among other measures.

The report also provides insight into the real cost of insulin and America’s dependence on Chinese-manufactured pharmaceuticals and medical equipment. “America must reclaim” the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies, the report argues, moving away from its overreliance on China and other countries to provide critical drugs and medical supplies.

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