Ellis Amends TDI Sunset Bill to Help Texas Children Access Health Insurance

(Austin, Texas)//Late last night, Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) added an amendment to HB 1951, the Texas Department of Insurance sunset bill, to increase health care coverage for Texas children.

Since September 2010, federal health reform has prohibited insurers from denying coverage to children based on pre-existing conditions. In response, many insurers have stopped selling coverage to applicants that are children called child-only coverage, since the kids are on a policy without the parents. As a result, there are no insurers selling child-only coverage in Texas today.

“This amendment will to ensure children can get the health care they need and is a solution where Texas insurers will start selling new policies,” said Ellis.

The Ellis amendment would allow TDI to adopt rules to increase the availability of coverage to children, younger than 19 years of age, by establishing open enrollment periods. It will also allow TDI to define and establish rules related to qualifying events for children, so that under certain circumstances, children can enroll immediately without having to wait for the next open enrollment period.

These qualifying events are similar to those that exist today for group coverage and include when children lose access to or eligibility for employer-sponsored insurance, Medicaid, or CHIP; and upon the birth or adoption of the child.

Twelve states have taken similar action proposed amendment, either within their Department of Insurance or legislature, to increase the availability of child-only coverage.

“Texas ranks #1 in the percentage of uninsured children and we’re slashing nearly $5 billion from health insurance programs like Medicaid,” said Ellis. “We need to take every step and take advantage of every option to help more kids get quality, affordable health insurance. This amendment is a small but important step in the right direction.”

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