Health care measures approved in Texas could be a model in rural America
Health care measures passed during the Texas legislative session could be a model for rural communities throughout the country.
Genevieve Collins is the Texas state director for Americans for Prosperity, a non-partisan grassroots and policy organization committed to finding solutions to challenges including healthcare.
“The fact that Texas has so many healthcare provider shortage areas and then compounded with the reality that Texas also has the largest number of uninsured citizens means that there is an opportunity to provide free market, innovative healthcare reforms,” she says.
All but 20 of the state’s 254 counties are designated as health care provider shortage areas and rural communities are often impacted the most. Collins says Americans for Prosperity in Texas is focused on increasing access to and lowering the cost of health care, providing price transparency, and ensuring that Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries maintain that safety net.
“These are not necessarily provocative concepts, but these are the things that actually have to happen in order for Texas to start leading the way in health care innovation and making sure that every man, woman, and child in Texas has high quality care at a cost they can afford,” she says.
Access to health care continues to be a major challenge for residents in rural communities.
Collins tells Brownfield one of the bills passed during the biennial legislative session would expand direct primary care.
“Basically, think of it as like a Netflix subscription to your care. You pay a monthly flat fee and have 24/7 access to your doctor. You’ll have 30-minute to hour-long appointments with your doctor, develop a personal relationship, and have better continuity of care because that doctor is able to cap how many patients they want to serve,” she says. “For example, prior to me going on the direct primary care model…I saw my doctor once a year for 15 minutes and then I saw his nurse practitioner the rest of the time if I ever needed something. With direct primary care, I’m able to see my doctor, I can text him, and I have a personal relationship with him. He only has 300 patients and I pay a monthly flat fee. This is something that is going to enable better access to care and it’s also going to ensure that folks that have insurance, can keep insurance and pay it and use it for catastrophic injuries if they happen. But by and large, most of the time we live our days, we’re not dealing with catastrophic issues, we’re dealing with allergies and colds and little things that we need to be able to go see our doctor when we need to, and we don’t need to go to an ER. We need to be able to see the doctor in real time and get an appointment the same day and direct primary care does that. This legislation has expanded direct primary care throughout the state of Texas. It doesn’t matter if you are a day worker or if you’re a person with a private plane. These folks pay the same flat fee for their care. That’s what we’ve seen be really successful in South Texas, where there are huge ranching communities, huge oil and gas communities, and folks across the entire spectrum. They’re in rural parts of the state, and they’re able to get the same quality and level of care at a cost that they can afford with immediate access.”
She says another piece of legislation focused on transparency in billing.
“Hospitals must provide an itemized bill for every procedure, every service rendered to any patient,” she says. “They have to put it in normal layman terms, and they have to provide an itemized bill before you get your service rendered.”
She says Americans for Prosperity in Texas helped pass seven bills this legislative session. AFP is a national organization with 38 state chapters. Because of this, Collins says these reforms can serve as a model to lead the way for the health care in the rest of the country.
“When we can start solving those problems in Texas, it’s a waterfall affect for the rest of the country. For other state legislature’s to see that if it can happen in Texas then it can happen in Arkansas or Mississippi or Indiana, for example,” she says. “We can provide a light and give other states the air cover to know they can engage on these issues and do better for their citizens in their communities.”
AFP Texas has 13 offices, 32-full time staff, and over 250,000 activists in the Lone Star State.
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Audio: Genevieve Collins