The Texas Public Policy Foundation applauded the Texas House for passing bipartisan legislation to open new options for those who are struggling to afford or don’t have health insurance. A decade after the passage of Obamacare, 63 percent of Texans say the cost of health insurance and prescription medications are the most frustrating part of our healthcare system.

The bills, which all passed with significant majorities, would allow certain member organizations – like The Farm Bureau, Texas Mutual, and Association Health plans – to create customized health benefit programs for individuals and families. These programs are an alternative to Obamacare, which has resulted in skyrocketing insurance premiums and high deductibles. Despite being eligible for some form of government assistance, like Medicaid or tax credits, more than 70% of uninsured Texans don’t enroll in the programs. Even with access to free or deeply discounted insurance, they still can’t get care.

“Texas is leading on a solution to improve access to affordable health care that can help all Texans, especially the uninsured,” said TPPF’s Director of Right on Health Care David Balat. “This approach will help eliminate the ‘coverage gap,’ offer affordable benefits, and improve access to care, while not bankrupting the state through misguided failed policies like Medicaid expansion. These new models have not only proven effective in other states but shown that the fears of operating outside Obamacare have not materialized. Finally, the bipartisan support for these reforms demonstrates that no one side has a monopoly on good ideas.  Chairman Frank and Chairman Oliverson deserve thanks for making sure Texas can bring together the Texas House to pass substantial reforms that will help millions of families.”

Despite broad support for these reforms, some who still support the broken polices of Obamacare have resorted to bad faith arguments to maintain the status quo.  However, the reality is:

  • Patients with pre-existing conditions will still have access the Obamacare exchanges, if that’s what they prefer.  Patients who explore the new options could see a short waiting period during which they can still maintain their current insurance. In Tennessee, for example, nine out of ten patients who applied for the Farm Bureau program were accepted.
  • There is no evidence association health benefit plans “cherry-pick” patients or that having customizable benefits lead to higher costs for anyone. In fact, Obamacare plans are prohibited from being flexible and health care costs, insurance premiums, and deductibles have all still increased dramatically.
  • The new reforms would likely cover significantly more patients than Medicaid expansion. The Farm Bureau alone already covers nearly half a million patient-families, which includes more than a million individuals. Expanding these health options would benefit an estimated two to three million more patients.

The bills are HB 3923, 3924, and 3752.