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Millions of Texans May Lose Coverage for Treatment

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Soon, insurance companies in Texas may not have to include treatment of substance use disorders in policies sold to businesses and individuals, the Houston Chronicle reported on May 29. Houston and San Antonio are Demand Treatment! Partners.

Legislation sent to Gov. Rick Parry this week also eliminates state-mandated coverage for treatment of HIV/AIDS, mental health disorders, and emergency medical care. The bill could impact over 6 million Texans.

Texas Association of Business President Bill Hammond believes the legislation may encourage companies to cover workers they do not currently insure because they are paying less for health care.

Lisa McGiffert of Consumers Union, however, predicts employees will not be able to afford care. “Doctors and hospitals are going to start telling people they have to pay up front rather than wait to see if the insurance company will cover a procedure,” she said.

McGiffert also expects the legislation will lead to an erosion of coverage for all Texans, because even companies not governed by mandates, such as self-insured businesses, purchase full policies in order to provide competitive coverage.

The bill flew through the Legislature with one public hearing in the Senate, no hearing in the house, and passed with a vote of 99-14. The Texas Association of Business has pushed for this legislation for the past three sessions. The group also helped Republications take control of the Texas House this year through significant contributions to political campaigns.

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