THA unveils policy agenda for 87th legislative session

The Texas Hospital Association (THA) released its policy priorities for the 87th session Tuesday. The organization says their agenda aims to strengthen Texas’ health care infrastructure and ensure every Texan’s health care needs are met.

 

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The organization announced the following priorities:

Increasing comprehensive health care coverage

Texas hospitals want to increase the number of Texans enrolled in health care coverage. According to THA, Texas has the highest number and percentage of uninsured residents at 5 million and 18 percent, respectively. The organization wants to enroll all eligible uninsured Texans into the private insurance marketplace and implement private market coverage for low-wage Texans.

Improving Medicaid reimbursement rates

Texas hospitals want to elevate Texas’ reportedly low Medicaid reimbursement rates. THA is advocating for reimbursement rates that better align with the costs of providing care. Two prior legislative attempts at this, SB 1050 and HB 3342, would have provided significant reimbursement relief to Texas nursing homes, but did not pass in 2019. The difference between actual costs and Medicaid reimbursements in Texas is twenty-seven dollars.

Increasing funding for behavioral health care

As Texas’ need for behavioral health services increases, THA wants to increase funding for behavioral health care and keep up with this augmented demand. They want to remove federal barriers to Medicaid services for patients in “institutions for mental disease.” According to THA, one of the ways this can be done is by implementing a state 1115 Waiver allowing the state to exercise a degree of autonomy over its funding process.

Making hospital payments “fair and equitable”

Texas hospitals are focused on ensuring fairness and equity in the state’s system of financing hospital payments. According to THA, this can be done by continuing the current provider rate structure and the authorization for local provider participation funds. Since hospitals are required to serve anyone who seeks care in their emergency departments regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay, they depend on the funds they receive to treat all of these patients. The funding the state gives to its hospitals is often not enough to cover essential health care services, according to THA.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly demonstrated the critical role that hospitals play in the health and wellbeing of the communities they serve,” said Ted Shaw, THA president and CEO. “The pandemic has tested and strained hospitals unlike ever before. Our policy priorities for the 87th Texas Legislature help ensure the financial stability and fair regulatory environment hospitals need to continue meeting Texans’ health care needs through the pandemic and beyond.”