Closing the Gap the "Texas Way"
Jo-Carolyn Goode | 3/16/2015, 11:45 a.m.
Today is the final day to file bills during the regular session of the 84th Texas Legislature. This afternoon I filed a bill proposing a "Texas Way" to expand health care coverage for low-income Texans that will include a request for a block grant from the federal government. If adopted, it would mark the first time a state has formally requested a block grant under the 1115 waiver process.
Over a million Texas residents currently fall into a health care coverage gap because they don't qualify for Medicaid and don't earn enough to qualify for assistance in obtaining coverage under the Affordable Care Act. What I'm proposing would allow newly eligible Texans to purchase private insurance plans through a combination of subsidies and cost-sharing provisions.
The "Texas Way" I've suggested addresses conservative concerns about expanding coverage by providing the state with flexibility to tailor the program to encourage personal responsibility by beneficiaries with such provisions as premium sharing. It also includes stipulations to reduce the cost of emergency room care, to protect Texans currently insured from potentially losing their federal tax credits, and more effectively use the state's healthcare resources.
Texas has unique needs, needs that merit finding a distinctly Texas solution to closing the coverage gap for our most vulnerable residents. My proposal comes on the heels of coverage expansion plans in Republican-controlled states like Indiana, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.
While other states are finding ways to expand coverage to those who need it, we have yet to provide the federal government with a plan they can even respond to. We should explore all options - including a block grant - that would finally allow uninsured Texans to purchase health insurance. We have the highest rate of uninsured and the highest number of uninsured children. That's why this week's song is "Bridging the Gap" by Nas. It's time to start that conversation about bridging the coverage gap in Texas.
For more information, visit http://www.house.state.tx.us/members/member-page/?district=147