Texas GOP lawmaker proposes private insurance policies for the poor

April 17, 2013 at 4:18 PM

AUSTIN, Texas, April 17 (UPI) -- Republican Texas state Rep. John Zerwas is promoting legislation to use government money to buy private insurance policies for the state's poor.

Zerwas calls the legislation, which would cost billions, the "Texas Solution," the Austin American-Statesman reported Tuesday.

Zerwas' plan would cover the state's poorest citizens by purchasing private insurance policies—similar to a plan Arkansas is working out with the U.S. government, the American-Statesman reported.

The plan would avoid adding 1.5 million uninsured Texas residents to Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, Zerwas said.

"To some extent, it's an experiment, but one in which I clearly have a lot of confidence. Let us use this money, partner with the private sector and provide coverage," Zerwas said.

The plan, which first the Texas Legislature, then federal health officials must approve, would bring a "big chunk of change" -- up to $100 billion in federal money over a 10 year-period -- that Texas would otherwise lose by refusing to broaden Medicaid coverage to cover low-income adults, the newspaper said.

There are only 41 days left in the legislative session, so time is a problem for passing such a complex bill. The subcommittee on transparency and reform Tuesday delayed a vote on Zerwas' bill. The bill must be approved by the full Appropriations Committee, then the House, before the bill would be able to move through the Senate's process.

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