There was good news for the uninsured in Texas at Monday’s at a joint meeting of the House Public Health and Insurance committees. From the HChron, Texans with health insurance expected to reach 91 percent.
The percentage of Texans with health insurance will increase to 91 percent – up from 74 percent today – after the national health care law takes effect in 2014, the state’s Medicaid director told lawmakers Monday.
The law, however, faces uncertainty pending a U.S. Supreme Court review over constitutional challenges, including a provision in the act mandating people to buy health insurance. Those who refuse will have to pay a penalty.
An estimated 2.3 million Texans will still lack health insurance after the Affordable Care Act takes effect, partially because undocumented immigrants are not eligible for coverage, State Medicaid Director Billy Millwee told a joint meeting of the House Public Health and Insurance committees.
While a Texas A&M economics professor has a different opinion about the law, (A&M economics professors don’t have a great track record), Lawmakers Monitor Health Care Reform’s Effect on Texas.
The public hearing started with about 90 minutes of projections from economist Thomas Saving of Texas A&M University, who told lawmakers that the reforms would eat up the federal budget, forcing Washington to push more Medicaid costs to the states.
“The state’s share of Medicaid was about 34 percent in 2010, and it’s going to be almost getting up near 40 percent,” Saving said. “It’s going to increase significantly.”
Some Democrats questioned Saving’s findings. They asked whether he had factored in any cost savings for additional preventative care. Saving said preventative care never pays.
“The fact that you’ve gone in, had a mammogram and know that you don’t have a problem, they don’t value that,” Saving said. “Preventative stuff does not reduce costs for the third-party payer. Almost every study would say that.”
Lawmakers also heard how full implementation of the law could affect the state’s large uninsured population. Billy Millwee of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission said that under the federal law, the amount of uninsured Texans would drop from 26 percent to 9 percent.
“Some of those will be undocumented. The individual mandate or the availability of the subsidy just won’t be there,” Millwee said. “You’ll have some people who just won’t comply. Because the penalty, in a cost benefit analysis, it may still be cheaper to not get insurance then it is to get insurance.”
But as Jon Perr shows, health care is so bad in Texas that the ACA can only help, Obama’s Affordable Care Act to the Rescue for Texas.
By almost any measure, Texas has one of the worst health care systems in the nation. Its 26 percent uninsured rate – no other state is even close – put its dead last. Overall, health care in the Lone Star State is ranked 44th by America’s Health Rankings and 46th by the Commonwealth Fund. Two years ago, it was ranked the 39th healthiest state.
Which is why the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is such a boon for Texas. After all, this week the state Medicaid director revealed that the ACA will dramatically reduce the ranks of the uninsured there to 9 percent beginning in 2014. It’s just a shame Governor Rick Perry and his Republican allies are doing everything possible to make sure that never happens.