As Texas Leads the Nation in Uninsured Americans, Lawmakers Pave Path for Inadequate Health Plans That Would Block Access for Texans with Chronic Illness

Despite a Year That Has Reiterated the Importance of Accessible, Affordable Health Coverage

June 22, 2021

AUSTIN, TX – June 22, 2021 – With the deadline to sign passing, Gov. Abbott has allowed bill (HB 3924) into law that would create new non-insurance coverage through the Texas Farm Bureau -- allowing the sale of inadequate health plans that are exempt from state insurance regulation and that can avoid patient protections required by federal law.

The below statement is on behalf of American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, Arthritis Foundation, Every Texan, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, National Multiple Sclerosis Society and National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Texas in reaction.

“We’re at a crucial moment in public health. With Texas leading the nation in its uninsured rate – an estimated 5 million -- this was no time to choose the status quo and accept policies that will deliver little or no relief to a vast majority of these uninsured Texans, including those with chronic illnesses, who seek comprehensive coverage.

“Our organizations are not just disappointed in today’s action that would make it harder for Texans who live with serious or chronic diseases to find health insurance – but by the missed opportunity by the legislature to truly build a healthier and more efficient Texas by increasing access through the Medicaid program.

“Additionally, the Legislature and Gov. Abbott’s failure to defend patient protections as part of the bill leaves Texans even more vulnerable by allowing the bureau to reject people with pre-existing conditions, charge them more, and limit coverage for their pre-existing conditions.

“Reliable, comprehensive health coverage is one of the few things that stands between illness and medical and financial ruin. While we strongly agreed with lawmakers intent to increase access to affordable coverage, this bill entirely misses the mark and would have no impact on helping to improve affordability and access to healthcare that is the foundation to survivorship for those with chronic illnesses.”

The bill goes into effect September 1, 2021.