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John Zerwas Proposal: Simplified Replacement for Federal Marketplace

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texas health insurance exchangeFollowing the March 2010 passage of health care reform, health insurance in Texas and across the country was dramatically changed. One big change that affects how consumers buy health insurance in general involves publically run exchanges on both the federal and state level. Rather than just buying insurance from private companies, whether through an employer or on your own, these exchanges would allow people to purchase government-backed health insurance policies.

Texas has been slow to react, as the state generally dismisses health care reform as an abuse of government power and one that negatively affects the nation’s economic well being.  But one politician is attempting to create a Texas-run exchange rather than subject Texans to the federal plan options. State Representative John Zerwas, a republican from Katy, TX, wants to create a Texas health insurance “connector,” or simplified insurance market, that would supersede our state’s adherence to the federal plan.

“My opposition to the federal health care reforms is no secret, and I continue to support Attorney General Greg Abbott’s efforts to have the law declared unconstitutional,” said Zerwas. “But the ‘connector concept’ has been around for decades and did not originate with Obamacare…Quite frankly, it is something that we should consider on its own merits regardless of the fate of the federal reforms.”

The state-run market would, in theory, make it easier for consumers to compare standard coverage plans, and also help to dole out federal subsidies to low income individuals and families in need of affordable Texas health insurance.

Zerwas’ plan would supplement, not replace, the private Texas health insurance market.  He says that major lobby groups comprised of doctors, hospitals and big businesses endorse the program, which would be overseen by board members ranging from health professionals to consumers and businesses.

It’s yet to be seen how all this will play out, but establishing state control over the exchange may be a better option than leaving it in the hands of the federal government, which to this point has not engendered much confidence in its handling of health care policies.

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