I’m not sure what to make of this yet.
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Grapevine, introduced two bills Wednesday they believe could save the state a significant amount of money and produce “healthy patient outcomes.” The duo repeated those words throughout a press conference in the Capitol, flanked by stakeholders from the Texas Medical Association, the Texas Hospital Association and House Public Health Committee Chairwoman Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham.
“We don’t have health care in America — we have sick care,” said Dewhurst, who cited studies from The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice indicating that the state could save up to one-third of its health-related costs by incentivizing doctors and hospitals to use best practices for treating patients, as opposed to paying them for the number of procedures they perform.
Nelson, a state budget writer and chairwoman of the Senate Health & Human Services Committee, said that after weeks of sobering meetings on the state’s financial constraints, there needs to be a “paradigm shift” in the way Texas funds medical costs.
“If I’ve learned nothing else — it is unsustainable. We’ve got to do something differently,” she said.
When asked whether the bills would cost or save the state money — and how much — Dewhurst said he is working with the Legislative Budget Board to determine exact figures. However, he is convinced there will be savings for the state. Unlike President Barack Obama’s federal health care reforms, the lieutenant governor said, these two new bills do not mandate that all citizens have insurance or increase regulations for states.
I guess he mentioned that to reassure the teabagger crowd that he’s not going to force his way into their homes and shove a tongue depressor down their throats or something. I’m not entirely clear on how it is that the individual mandate went from a Republican idea to a shibboleth. The Trib provides a word cloud comparison of these bills to the Affordable Care Act, which doesn’t really tell me anything. I see now that Rep. Garnet Coleman has issued a press release that praises Dewhurst for these bills, which heartens me greatly. The main thing I have to add is that much like Rep. Zerwas’ insurance exchanges, we would not be having this conversation if it weren’t for the Affordable Care Act, which has basically forced the hand of our state leaders. If any of this had been a priority to them at any time before now, they had plenty of opportunities to take action. Still, better late than never, so good on Dewhurst, Nelson, and Kolkhorst for putting these bills forward. Patricia Kilday Hart, who suspects this is Dewhurst’s attempt to put a little sugar in the budget’s castor oil, has more.