Special Report: Texas Health Reform Checklist: Key Steps to Make the Most of Reform

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Anne Dunkelberg /(512) 320-0222 x 102
Stacey Pogue /(512) 320-0222 x 117

September 28, 2010

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The new national health reform law will change the health care landscape in Texas. Though Texans’ opinions of the new health care reform law cover the full spectrum from approval to those who would have preferred a different approach, the new law is an important tool that states can use to achieve their own health policy goals, such as increasing coverage, improving transparency and quality, and controlling costs.

The new law provides substantial federal funding to support fundamental improvements in Texas’ health care system, but leaves many of the key policy decisions and much of the heavy lifting to implement national health reform up to the states. Ultimately, decisions made at the state level—by the Texas Legislature and state agencies including the Health and Human Services Commission and the Texas Department of Insurance—will determine how successful Texas is at expanding health insurance coverage, improving quality, and controlling health care costs.

Texas is at a fork in the road. We can take a strategic approach in implementing the law with the goal of maximizing new policy changes and federal funding to create a high-performing health care system that delivers quality care to Texans and serves as a model to the nation. If we don’t, we will squander an opportunity to make much-needed improvements in our health care system. The consequences of inaction will be unnecessary barriers to coverage, less-coordinated and lower-quality care, a less healthy population, and uncontrolled health care costs that take a toll on Texas’ families, employers, and state budget.

This report provides an overview of health reform implementation in our state. It explains key health reform provisions, identifies imminent decisions that must be made at the state level, and explains what is at stake for Texas as we work on implementation.