Lawmakers need to stop the losses at Texas hospitals

The Texas health care system is hemorrhaging money.

Emergency room doctors see critically ill poor people every day who waited too long to seek help because they lack health insurance. The ER doctors provide them with just enough care to responsibly send patients on their way, knowing full well that while the patients will likely return, they will probably never pay the bill.

Hospitals have complained about this problem for at least 15 years and have coped by quietly padding the bills sent to insurance companies, driving up health care costs for the rest of us.

While this has worked for a while, the number of uninsured people continues to rise in Texas, and health care providers are demanding that lawmakers find a sustainable solution by expanding coverage for the poor.

“It’s at a critical point in Texas. We need a more rational way to finance Medicaid and the uninsured,” Memorial Hermann CEO Dan Wolterman said. “The current way we are doing it is not helpful. It’s actually harmful.”

A Texas solution could offer a plan for the working poor - not called Medicaid but using federal dollars - that requires patients to make co-payments based on a sliding scale or by using a fee schedule that makes preventative treatments free and unnecessary emergency room visits cost-prohibitive.
August 28, 2014
Houston Chronicle