AUSTIN – Today, the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Right on Healthcare campaign launched its “Healthy Recovery” legislative agenda to increase patient access and lower costs for all Texans. The plan includes seven separate policy items to improve health care price transparency, increase options to help patients cover medical expenses, and open up better access to health care professionals. Each proposal is designed to respond to the current health care challenges from the coronavirus outbreak as well long-standing problems in Texas’ health care system.
“Texans are largely frustrated by the way we pay for and deliver health care services,” said Right on Healthcare’s Policy Director David Balat. “Costs are skyrocketing, people are paying tens of thousands of dollars before coverage kicks in, insurance companies are failing patients, and too many communities are seeing their medical providers close up shop. Right on Healthcare has a strong plan to address these issues, put patients back in charge, and lower costs for services.”
The campaign has developed seven specific items to reform health care in Texas:
Price Transparency: Nearly nine out of ten Texans believe it should be mandatory for medical providers to give patients the price for non-emergency procedures and treatments before performing them. ROH’s plan would begin to make costs more transparent by allowing lawmakers to have access to the negotiated rates between the government and health care vendors.
Expanding Telemedicine: Telemedicine offers a convenient and safe alternative to traveling long distances to see a doctor. Texas should permanently eliminate regulations waived during the coronavirus outbreak that increased telemedicine access and lower costs.
Medical Licensure Reciprocity: Texas already has more than twenty health care license reciprocity laws that allow for an increase in certain providers. Allowing out of state physicians to practice in Texas, as more individuals are moving here, will open up options for patients to get the kind of care they want and need.
Physician Dispense: Texas is one of only five states that does not allow physicians to directly dispense medications to patients. Doing so not only cuts down wait times at pharmacies, but studies show it increases adherence rates, improving patient health, and reduces the use of emergency care if they’ve had an adverse reaction, lowering costs.
Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) Grant Program for Rural Communities: FQHCs have already proven to be an accessible means for health care for lower-income individuals across Texas, and offer many services under one roof. As rural facilities in Texas are unable to meet the demands and costs of federal and state regulations and face bankruptcy, a grant program that encourages FQHCs to share space can save these facilities and continue to offer care to these communities.
Direct Primary Care for Medicaid Patients: As health care costs explode, a growing option for patients, direct primary care, is proving to significantly lower health care expenses, but also provide patients a better, more personal experience with their doctor. Texas should lead the way by opening a pilot program that allows Medicaid patients access to direct primary care options.
Medical Cost-Sharing Safe Harbor: Medical costs sharing agreements are not traditional insurance because people don’t pay “premiums,” rather groups directly pool resources that are then available to members when health care needs arise. Texas should expand medical cost-sharing options and eliminate the unfair and unnecessary burdens of being regulated by the Texas Department of Insurance.