Did Texas Get To Work? An Update on 6 Key Challenges

Earlier this month, those of you on our email list heard from us more than usual, and you helped us get out the word about what Texas should do now that health reform's day in court is over. Thank you for all your phone calls, tweets, Facebook posts, letters to the editor, and more! Here's an update on where we stand with the . . .

6 ways Texas Should Get to Work Implementing the Affordable Care Act

  1. Apply for available funds to reopen the Texas Consumer Health Assistance Program, which answers Texans’ questions about their health care benefits and rights. When Brazoria County's Wesley Chafin faced the prospect of going without health insurance a few months ago, he knew it could mean a death sentence. Wesley is coping with end-stage renal disease, and his pre-existing condition meant many insurers would not cover him. Fortunately, he was able to call Texas CHAP — in the days before the state closed the consumer health assistance program last April. That's how he found out about the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan as an Affordable Care Act option that could help him when he needed it most. Partisan politics should never come before helping Texans out. However, we regret to let you know that Texas missed the deadline to apply for millions of dollars in available funds--dollars that would help people like Wesley learn about their health care rights and options. We will continue to press the state about reopening Texas CHAP, so Texans can get answers to pressing health care questions when they need them.

  2. Follow through on the demands of 1,600 Texans who petitioned for the state to finalize its review of several health care premium rate hikes of 10 percent or greater. As we let you know earlier this month, the Texas Department of Insurance has made headway in one regard: They took a first step toward greater accountability, by making public which insurers hiked their rates by 10 percent or more and by responding to our petition. Still, as rate reviews remain pending, many Texans remain in the dark as to whether there was cause cause for the increase. Texans shouldn't have to pay more because the state is dragging its feet on the review process, so we took to the national airwaves on National Public Radio and Kaiser Health News to make the case for action.

  3. Create a process for getting input into what will be considered essential health benefits before a September 30 deadline. A group of 21 statewide and regional organizations mobilized in calling on Texas leaders to start a decision-making process on this subject. It may sound technical, but it's really going to decide whether the coverage newly available to Texans across the state will include some of the specific prescriptions, procedures, and treatments that many people are counting on. We'll keep you posted here on our blog about how Texas is going about defining essential health benefits here.

  4. Spread the news that 1.5 million Texans will be getting rebates from their insurers because of health reform. All over the state, Texans are starting to receive rebate checks for hundreds of dollars. You helped spread the word, and we can't thank you enough! The tweets with pictures of your checks are flying, and our posters on this topic have generated over 100 likes and shares from our Facebook page alone. Let's keep it up: send us your pictures of you with your check, deposit slip, or letter about the money the insurance company had to give you, because they didn't spend enough of your premium on health care.

  5. Take action to ensure Texans have a competitive health insurance marketplace that works for Texas. As you've probably heard by now, Texas Governor Rick Perry announced he does not intend for Texas to develop its own competitive health care marketplace where consumers can compare prices and select a good plan for them. But guess what? Our people will have a health insurance exchange, anyway. It will be a federal one to start in 2014. Texas, including our legislature, can pursue developing a state-run exchange in future years, and we will keep pushing for this, where there are benefits to Texans for our state to have more control.

  6. Accept the health law's plans for Medicaid, including a solution that will put 1.3 million Texans on firmer financial footing and help more of them have the health care they needWhile the governor also said the state won't allow families who would be newly eligible for Medicaid under the law to get it, our campaign and influential health industry leaders have pushed back hard on that notion. This is a decision that Texas will need to make as a state: our legislature and people included. Still, the health and wellbeing of so many Texans counts, and our governor needs to hear it. We urge you to call toll-free, and tell him so: (888) 530-9422.

Written by: Christine Sinatra

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