Agents Say Legislature Should Focus on Fixing the ACA in Texas
The Texas Association of Health Underwriters said today the Texas Legislature’s number one priority should be to put in motion a plan to unwind the Affordable Care Act in Texas as soon as possible instead of waiting for the U.S. Congress or the new Trump administration to act.
“Their timing is way too murky. Deadlines and time marks by Washington keep changing and disappearing,” said Cheryl Clark, Lubbock, president of TAHU.
“There’s a better way to begin reversing the negative effects of the ACA in Texas and they can begin taking place if the Legislature will take a few important steps,” she added.
Clark said the individual health insurance plan market has been devastated by federal requirements and needs immediate attention. Employer-sponsored group health plans are not far behind, she added.
“We’ve all seen the problems people encountered when they had to get their coverage through the exchange,” Clark said, “but we can start changing that with help from our Texas Legislature.
Unraveling the ACA could begin with the Legislature directing the Texas Department of Insurance to work with federal agencies to target specific changes that could be accomplished immediately in accordance with President Donald Trump’s Jan. 20th Executive Order:
- Get rid of the ACA’s “essential health benefit” requirements and let Texas determine as it has in the past which benefits should be required
- Remove artificial constraints for certain actuarial value requirements to be maintained in small group and individual plans
- Revert to the rating formulas required in Texas pre-ACA which permit rates to much more closely reflect the true risk of the insured person
- Allow more rating and design flexibility in health benefit plans
- Tighten the verification procedures for eligibility for “special enrollment periods.” It has been widely acknowledged that these procedures have been abused
- Develop a detailed time line for transition to all new requirements under the Texas plan so carriers and health plans will have ample time and opportunity to design and price their plans.
Clark was optimistic that under a presidential administration that is favorably inclined to the virtues of a free, open and competitive marketplace like Texas can be, Texas lawmakers and regulators could come up with a positive plan to provide all Texans comprehensive health insurance.
Texas Association of Health Underwriters (TAHU) is a statewide membership association representing licensed health insurance agents, brokers, consultants and benefit professionals who serve the health insurance needs of employers and individual consumers seeking health insurance. TAHU is a state affiliate of the National Association of Health Underwriters.
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