Texas Voice for Health Reform Update – May 3, 2010
Texas Voice for Health Reform Update
May 3, 2010
In this issue…
- Conference Call with Texas Attorney General Gregg Abbott
- Sign-On Letter for Young Adult Coverage
Update on Health Reform Implementation
- New High-Risk Pools
- Texas House hearing on health reform
- Insurers Agree to Stop Dropping Sick People from Coverage Early
- Request for Comments Related to Rate Review and Medical Loss Ratios
- Sunset Commission Review of the Department of Insurance
- Health Reform Implementation Road Show
- Grassroots Groups Poised to Ensure Effective, Efficient Implementation of New Health Care Reform Law in Texas
- Health Reform GPS
- 3 Steps to the Small Business Health Insurance Tax Credit
- New Implementation Resources from Families U.S.A.
- New Resources from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
Conference Call with Texas Attorney General Gregg Abbott
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is working to defeat “Obamacare” by preparing to file a lawsuit against the federal government to challenge the constitutionality of the new law. We believe that Abbott’s interpretation of the new law is mistaken and have made our own point in the following opinion pieces:
On Thursday, May 6, Empower Texans is inviting all Texans to participate in a conference call with Gregg Abbott “to learn more about the lawsuit and what it means for Texans, and then put your questions and comments directly to Mr. Abbott.”
We encourage you to register for this call and share your comments with Mr. Abbott. It important that he and other Texans know how important “Obamacare” is to you.
Sign-On Letter for Young Adult Coverage
A critical provision in the health care bill allows young adults to stay on their parent’s plan until their 26th birthday. This law starts on September 23, but several insurance companies have decided to start the rule early. So, young adults who are graduating from college this May and are on their parents’ plan, may be able to keep their coverage up to their 26th birthday. With about 3.2 million students graduating from college this May, and 67% of those on their parents’ plan, this is a very big deal. Young Invincibles, a national youth advocacy group focused on health reform, put together a letter asking all the major insurance carriers to take similar steps and go even farther. Read the letter
UPDATE ON HEALTH REFORM IMPLEMENTATION
Now that health reform has passed in Congress, state governments will be working with the federal government to implement new reforms. To reflect the new “post-reform” environment, we will be using this space to provide information on various aspects of the implementation process, including updates from the Hill, from the Texas Capitol, and from federal and state agencies.
New high-risk pools
Last Friday Governor Rick Perry informed the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that Texas will not create its own temporary high-risk pool, which means that the federal government will now contract with private insurers to create one for us. Although Texas already has its own high-risk pool, premiums in the Texas high-risk pool can be as much as twice the standard market price, making it very expensive for Texans with serious medical conditions to get coverage. The new temporary high-risk pools, which are required in every state under the new health reform law, will be subsidized over four years to make coverage in the pool more affordable for those who cannot gain coverage under other plans because of their medical conditions.
- Governor Perry says Texas won’t run high-risk health insurance pool
- Texas won’t run required insurance pool, governor decide
Texas House hearing on health reform
You can see Texas HHSC, Legislative Budget Board, and TDI presentations from their 4/22/2010 hearing on health reform implementation at http://www.hhsc.state.tx.us/news/presentations/2010/HouseSelectFedHlthReform.pdf and http://www.tdi.state.tx.us/reports/documents/fedhlthreform4222010.ppt ; http://www.lbb.state.tx.us/Federal_Funds/Other_Publications/Federal_Healthcare%20Reform_Presentation_0410.pdf . While the HHSC materials provided were only slightly more detailed than those presented at the March Senate hearing, the agency did provide members with some additional details about their projections. CPPP will prepare a brief update on the HHSC assumptions soon.
Insurers Agree to Stop Dropping Sick People From Coverage Early
Starting in September, the health reform law prohibits insurers from retroactively canceling enrollees’ coverage if they get sick (a practice known as rescission). This week, insurers agreed to stop rescissions early, staring in May, due in part to recent revelations that some insurance companies specifically targeted women newly diagnosed with breast cancer and HIV-positive individuals for recession.
Requests for Comments Related to Rate Review and Medical Loss Ratios
Federal agencies implementing health reform have requested public comments to help them develop regulations that clarify the new health reform law. This is one of the first opportunities to ensure that regulations are both effective and consumer-friendly.
Sunset Commission Review of the Department of Insurance
The Texas Department of Insurance and Office of Public Insurance Counsel—two of the key agencies that will implement health reform in Texas—are under Sunset review. Generally this process entails a broad public and legislative review of the need for the agency as well as the effectiveness of its structure and functions. However, this review of TDI and OPIC is limited in scope. They had a full review last session, but are back again because the bills to re-authorize the agencies for 12 years got hung up at the end of session and did not pass. The scope of the limited “re-review” may not include big questions about how TDI and OPIC are equipped to implement health reform. The Sunset Advisory Commission’s public hearing on TDI and OPIC is May 25-26, and the staff report was released last week.
Health Reform Implementation Road Show
Planning for our Implementation Road Show is well under way and we’ll be hitting the road in just a few weeks. We still have room in our schedule to hit more communities, so if you’re interested in hosting a Road Show event in your area please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Currently we have scheduled events in the following locations:
- May 21, Fort Worth
- June 10, Longview
- June 14, Dallas
- July 8, Fort Worth
Grassroots Groups Poised to Ensure Effective, Efficient Implementation of New Health Care Reform Law in Texas
Last week Texas Voice for Health Reform participated in a panel discussion and press conference on the success of grassroots organizing in the fight for the passage of national health reform, and the need to harness the organizing momentum to ensure effective and efficient implementation. State Representative Garnet Coleman, one of the most visible state-level officials working at the national level on behalf of Texans, joined us in the celebration and also committed his efforts to implementation and supporting grassroots organizing in Texas.
Health Reform GPS The purpose of this web site is to track health reform from enactment through implementation, through notes, expert and public commentary and key documents. This site will grow and expand as the legislation and its implementation unfolds.
3 Steps to the Small Business Health Insurance Tax Credit If you are a small employer (business or tax-exempt) that provides health insurance coverage to your employees, this simple step-by-step worksheet from the IRS can help you determine whether you qualify for the Small Business Health Insurance Tax Credit.
New Implementation Resources from Families USA
- What Will the Health Reform Law Do in the First Year?
- The First 90 Days: A State Advocate’s To-Do List
- Early Medicaid Expansions Under Health Reform
- Efforts to Halt Health Reform: Playing Politics with our Health
New Resources from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities