New House Committee Takes on Health Care Costs
By Joey Berlin

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Two physician legislators will serve on a newly created House Select Committee on Statewide Health Care Costs during the Texas Legislature’s interim year in 2020.

House Speaker Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton) announced the formation of the committee last week. Among the speaker’s 11 appointees to the committee are his brother, Rep. Greg Bonnen, MD (R-Friendswood), who will serve as its chair, and Rep. Tom Oliverson, MD (R-Cypress).

The committee will examine the “primary drivers of increased health care costs in Texas,” including a review of nine factors listed in Speaker Bonnen’s proclamation forming the panel. Among those factors:

  • Insurance coverage and benefit design;
  • Lack of transparency in the cost of health care services;
  • Regional variations in the cost of care;
  • Consolidation and lack of competition in the provider and insurance markets; and
  • Health care workforce capacity distribution.

The committee also will be charged with studying “opportunities to better coordinate how public dollars are spent on health care,” and identifying “emerging and proven delivery system improvements and sustainable financing models” to reduce costs.

The cost of care has the potential to become a serious public health concern, particularly in light of Texas’ high percentage of uninsured people. A study released early this year, “The Impact of Uninsurance on Texas’ Economy,” showed that the lack of health insurance would cause hardships for hospitals, physicians and ordinary Texans.

Among the study’s findings:

  • In 2016, the cost of lower lifetime earnings and worse health for uninsured Texans was $57 billion. Barring any change in policy, that cost will rise to $178.5 billion by 2040.
  • The $3.5 billion price tag for hospitals and physicians who provide unsubsidized and uncompensated care in 2016 will rise to $12.4 billion by 2040 without a change in policy.
  • The value of lost earnings and poor health due to uninsurance in Texas is estimated to be $178.5 billion in 2040 (or $74 billion in 2016 dollars).

Last Updated On

December 16, 2019

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Joey Berlin

Associate Editor

(512) 370-1393
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Joey Berlin is associate editor of Texas Medicine. His previous work includes stints as a reporter and editor for various newspapers and publishing companies, and he’s covered everything from hard news to sports to workers’ compensation. Joey grew up in the Kansas City area and attended the University of Kansas. He lives in Austin.

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