Texas groups hope legislators can help slow rising health costs

Several nonprofit groups representing Texas healthcare employers have formed a coalition — Texas Employers for Affordable Healthcare — in hopes they can help slow rising healthcare costs, The Dallas Morning News reported Nov. 8.

The coalition's founding stakeholders include Dallas-Fort Worth Business Group on Health, Houston Business Coalition on Health, San Antonio Business Group on Health, Texas Business Group on Health and Texas 2036, a public policy think tank. They aim to ban language in contracts between hospitals and insurance plans that they allege blocks competition, according to the newspaper. 

"Think of things like gag clauses, most-favored nation, all or nothing, and anti-steering, anti-tiering rules. All of these clauses are in contracts because the large health systems can demand they are there," Chris Skisak, executive director of Texas Employers for Affordable Healthcare, told the newspaper. 

Cumulative growth in family health premiums is almost triple that of workers' pay gains since 1999, according to research from the Kaiser Family Foundation referenced by the newspaper. Employers have assumed more than four-fifths of these family premium costs this year, Kaiser's survey shows; Texas employers told the newspaper they do not have the revenue to foot this, and coupled with inflation, it has forced them to make difficult budget decisions. 

Mr. Skisak told the newspaper the goal is not to stop health systems from consolidating — as "that horse has already left the barn" — but they hope to promote discussion and negotiation by lobbying lawmakers during the next legislative session. 

Not all Texas health professionals believe legislators should get involved in the dispute, however. "Hospitals are not the sole solution to healthcare costs," Stephen Love, CEO of the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council, wrote in an email obtained by the newspaper. "The full continuum of care should be in the discussion, and finger pointing will not solve the problem."

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