Texas enacted seven laws that will improve health care, despite heavy resistance from Big Pharma, hospitals, and the health insurance industry, say reform advocates.
“Texans should have the ability to be in charge of their care, and patients should come first, not big health care entities,” said Genevieve Collins, state director of Americans for Prosperity-Texas (AFP-TX), a grassroots group.
AFP-TX helped get the seven health care reform bills through the legislature. Gov. Greg Abbott signed all the bills that required his signature into law. In addition to HB 25, allowing drug imports from Canada (see related article), the group lobbied for HB 290, which authorizes Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangements (MEWAs) similar to association health plan reforms advanced during the Trump administration, but later struck down in court. MEWAs are a way for small businesses to collectively negotiate for better health insurance deals.
HB 2002 allows a broader range of out-of-pocket expenses to meet insurance deductibles. Items must be medically necessary, but greater flexibility is expected to encourage cost-saving behavior.
SB 490 and HB 1973 require greater detail on patients’ bills. SB 622 calls for disclosure of certain prescription drug information by health plans.
HB 711 amends the insurance code to prohibit insurance companies and providers from entering provider network contracts with anti-competitive clauses. SB 2193 and HB 3317 create a pilot program for Federal Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) to provide direct primary care arrangements.
“Patients are not commodities, and they need to be empowered to become shoppers for their care,” said Collins. “Our success in this session came from bringing the stories of Texans to legislators who were focused on getting something done and having the fortitude to take the fight to the finish line.”