September 19, 2013
Senator Kirk Watson said Thursday he was “very concerned” by the efforts of some, potentially including Governor Perry, that could make it harder for Texans to secure health insurance.
He also sent a letter to the Texas Insurance Commissioner explaining the intent of a law that Senator Watson passed this year that allows the state to regulate healthcare navigators, who will help Texans secure health insurance through exchanges created under the Affordable Care Act.
It is far from clear that current law even gives the Insurance Commissioner the authority to create the onerous, heavy-handed regulations on navigators that Governor Perry said this week he is seeking.
“This is a tool to improve our healthcare system, not dismantle it even further,” Senator Watson said. “He’s twisting the meaning of protecting consumers to fulfill an extreme political agenda. This will hurt Texans who need healthcare far more than it helps him in some GOP primary.”
During this year’s legislative session, Senator Watson passed Senate Bill 1795, which allows the Texas Department of Insurance to create supplemental regulations for healthcare navigators.
The intent of this new law was to protect consumers while making it easier for Texans to get health insurance. But this week, Governor Perry sent a letter to Texas’ Insurance Commissioner asking for what appear to be onerous and unnecessary regulations that could make it much harder for navigators to help Texans.
The Governor’s letter was sent the same week that a new census report showed Texas continues to lead the nation in the percentage of uninsured residents. Nearly 25 percent of the state’s population – 1 in 4 Texans – does not have health insurance.
“It’s truly incredible that the Governor is playing raw politics in a way that will make this lamentable situation worse,” Watson said. “And it’s baffling that the Governor seems to have dug in against the basic notion of Texans having affordable health insurance.”