As Texas Lawmakers Weigh Affordable Care Act Again, Over 4 Million Texans Experience Benefits

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 1, 2012                                                            Contact: Christine Sinatra (512) 473-2274

Texas Women and Texans Whose Insurers Charged Too Much for Administrative Costs Last Year Have Milestones Today

AUSTIN – Important improvements in women’s preventive care and a milestone related to controlling health care spending coincided today with a Texas legislative hearing about what the Affordable Care Act means for our state. Even as lawmakers from two state senate committees heard testimony about the nation’s health reform law, 3.4 million Texas women were affected by provisions of ensuring women could receive preventive care, including screenings, check-ups and contraception, without out-of-pocket costs. Additionally, Wednesday is the deadline by which the Texas insurers who spent less than 80 percent of last year’s premiums on actual health care must distribute rebates to small businesses and policy-holders to make up the difference.

“These developments will not only protect Texans’ health, but also save them their hard-earned money,” said Mimi Garcia, Organizing Director with Texas Well and Healthy, a statewide grassroots campaign to improve health care in Texas. “These are big steps forward for women’s healthcare and for better value in health insurance premiums. They help Texans protect their health and their finances.”

Beginning today, all women’s health plans moving forward must include the preventive health care services recommended by the Institute of Medicine without co-payments, co-insurance, deductibles or other out-of-pocket costs. This includes well-woman visits, birth control, breastfeeding supports and screenings and counseling, for things ranging from gestational diabetes to domestic violence.

Today is also the deadline for health insurance companies that have to give rebates to their customers if they spent less than 80 percent of last year’s premium dollars on health care, as opposed to overhead and profits. The Affordable Care Act requires health insurance companies to follow this 80-20 rule, and those that failed to last year in Texas have been reimbursing small businesses and Texans with individual policies for the past several weeks. In 2012, over 1.5 million Texas families will have received a total of $167 million in refunds, averaging $187 per family.

For more on today’s hearing at the Texas legislature, which is being jointly held by the committee on health and human services and the committee on state affairs, visit http://www.senate.state.tx.us/.

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The Texas Well and Healthy campaign is a broad, grassroots coalition working to ensure that every Texan has access to comprehensive and affordable health insurance. It is a collaboration of members of Cover Texas Now and other health care coalitions in the state, and led by the Center for Public Policy Priorities, Children’s Defense Fund- Texas, Engage Texas and Texans Care for Children. More about the campaign is at http://texaswellandhealthy.org

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