House Committee Proposes Healthcare Reform Measures in Texas Legislature | Texas

(The Center Square) — A Select Committee on Health Care Reform in the State House has proposed recommendations and drafted legislation for state legislatures to consider that will reduce prescription drug and medical costs and expand transparency.

The interim report submitted to the legislator was compiled by a bipartisan committee after its members conducted two public hearings.

Committee members include State Representatives Sam Harless, chair; Toni Rose, Vice President; Greg Bonnen, MD; John H. Bucy III, Giovanni Capriglione, James B. Frank, RD “Bobby” Guerra, Stephanie Klick, John Lujan, Tom Oliverson, MD and Armando Walle.

The 102 pages report includes key expert testimony and their conclusions relating to five allegations. The first charge involved studying “the implications of excessive health care costs on the effectiveness of Texas Medicaid and the private health insurance market and its subsequent impact on individual Texans, businesses, and state government.”

Committee members evaluated and made recommendations on healthcare affordability, transparency, competition, and patient incentives. They also made recommendations to expand access to health care pricing information to enable patients to make informed decisions about their care.

They also examined the impact of government, administrative and contractual benefit mandates imposed on private insurance companies and the impact on employer and consumer premiums and out-of-pocket costs. They made recommendations for state and agency-level mandates and regulations that could be relaxed or repealed to increase the availability and affordability of private health coverage options in Texas, and reviewed access and affordability of prescription drugs.

The second charge involved monitoring implementation and compliance with current price transparency requirements to determine how the state can better support patients and increase competition.

The third and fourth focused on expanding subsidized care to low-income and at-risk populations “to ensure Texans have access to affordable, quality, and comprehensive health care,” including identifying ways to improve the outreach of eligible families to expand Medicaid or CHIP coverage.

Fifth examined the potential impact of delayed care on the Texas health care delivery system, health care costs, and patient health outcomes, including assessing patient delays in obtaining preventive and primary health services .

“The select committee was one of the most substantial of its kind highlighting the root causes of many issues rather than the surface-level ones commonly addressed,” said David Balat, director of the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Right on Healthcare initiative . “The Committee has done an outstanding job of providing solutions that will result in tremendous change in an opaque industry that will benefit all Texans.”

Balat, who is also co-author of a report to reduce prescription drug costs nationwide, he proposed a number of reforms for Congress to consider, including codifying a 2019 price transparency rule for hospitals and insurers, increasing penalties for failure to comply, ending tax-exempt status for non-profit hospitals that also receive taxpayer-funded rebates, requiring the Federal Trade Commission to review mergers and acquisitions between insurers and hospital schemes to ensure they do not restrict competition and choices of patients, among other measures.

The report also provides insight into the true cost of insulin and America’s reliance on Chinese-made pharmaceuticals and medical equipment. “America must reclaim” the production of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies, the report argues, moving away from its over-reliance on China and other countries to supply essential medicines and medical supplies.

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