AUSTIN – The Texas Public Policy Foundation sharply criticized the U.S. Senate’s approval earlier today of H.R. 3590, saying that the proposed federal government takeover of our health care system would do considerable harm to Texas patients and the Texas state budget.

“Under the legislation approved by the U.S. Senate, the prognosis for health care in America involves higher costs, lower quality, and less access to care – the opposite direction of where we should be going,” said TPPF Senior Fellow Arlene Wohlgemuth.

Talmadge Heflin, Director of TPPF’s Center for Fiscal Policy and former chairman of the Texas House Appropriations Committee, said the Texas state budget would take a severe hit if Medicaid eligibility were expanded along the lines of the current congressional proposals.

“The legislation passed by the U.S. Senate could add 1.2 million Texans to the Medicaid rolls, at an estimated cost to Texas taxpayers of $2 billion per year,” Heflin said. “With Medicaid costs already spiraling out of control, this additional Medicaid burden could force the Texas Legislature to make deep cuts in public education and other functions of state government.”

TPPF Senior Fellow Joseph M. Nixon, who authored the medical liability reforms approved by Texas voters in 2003, pointed out that H.R. 3590 would reverse the gains Texas has made in eliminating frivolous lawsuits against medical providers.

“The Senate’s legislation contains more than 20 different provisions creating new types of lawsuits against medical providers, and could pre-empt the medical liability laws of Texas and 35 other states,” Nixon said. “Physicians in Texas and across the country will be exposed to many frivolous liability lawsuits based not on how they treated their patients but instead on whether they complied with certain government standards.”

Wohlgemuth said that the combined effect of increased federal interference in the doctor/patient relationship, sharply higher health insurance premiums, and the resurgence of frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits would significantly reduce Texans’ access to quality medical care.

“With the federal government and opportunistic trial lawyers peeking over their shoulders and the federal government clamping down on reimbursements, Texas will go backwards to earlier this decade when many doctors simply shut their practices if this legislation passes,” Wohlgemuth said. “Thanks to carefully developed state policy, Texas has made great strides in improving Texans’ access to health care during the past six years. That progress will quickly be undone if anything remotely resembling the current congressional legislation becomes law.”

The Honorable Arlene Wohlgemuth is a Senior Fellow and the incoming Executive Director at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a non-profit, free-market research institute based in Austin. She served 10 years in the Texas House of Representatives, specializing in health care issues.

The Honorable Talmadge Heflin is Director of the Center for Fiscal Policy at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. Heflin served 11 terms in the Texas House of Representatives and chaired the House Appropriations Committee in 2003, leading the Texas Legislature’s successful efforts to close a $10 billion budget deficit without a tax increase.

The Honorable Joseph M. Nixon is a Senior Fellow with the Texas Public Policy Foundation and of counsel with the Houston law firm Beirne, Maynard & Parsons, LLP. He served six terms in the Texas House of Representatives and was the author of Proposition 12, the medical liability reforms approved by Texas voters in 2003.

The Texas Public Policy Foundation is a non-profit, non-partisan, free-market research institute based in Austin.

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