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I’m Doug Hawthorne, CEO of Texas Health Resources, with “The Business of Health Care Report.”
More than 5.6 million Texans are without health insurance. That translates to 1 in 4 people statewide – the highest uninsured rate in the nation.
Last June, Governor Rick Perry signed a bill that represents an important step toward addressing the uninsured crisis in Texas. The legislation makes significant reforms to the state's Medicaid program.
The bill aims to increase the number of Texans covered by health insurance and provide affordable coverage options for the uninsured. It creates a legislative oversight committee to facilitate reform efforts and mandates further study of a program under which small employers would offer health benefit programs.
One provision of the bill establishes a committee to study and recommend potential incentives to encourage individuals and businesses to buy health and long-term care insurance. This is one of the many important steps in the development of a comprehensive approach to reduce the state's uninsured population.
By making health coverage more accessible and affordable, lawmakers can directly affect the lives of millions of Texans who struggle without health insurance.
In the meantime, our nonprofit hospitals continue to provide a valuable safety-net of care for low-income Texans, including the uninsured and those covered by Medicaid. In 2006, THR hospitals provided more than ninety-two million dollars in charity care and unreimbursed Medicaid expenses.
For Texas Health Resources and its faith-based hospitals – Harris Methodist, Presbyterian and Arlington Memorial – I’m Doug Hawthorne.