Speech on opening of Health Insurance Marketplace

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Introduction:

· Thank you, Mayor Parker for holding this press conference.

· Today, we are celebrating the historic opening of new health insurance options for Texans.

· Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, millions of Texans will have access to quality, affordable health insurance through a new health care marketplace.

Problem:

· As you know, Texas has the highest uninsured rate in the nation with more than one in four lacking coverage. That’s more than 6 million people.

· In Houston, almost 1 in 3 people are without health insurance coverage.

· This is a problem because individuals who lack insurance are more likely to have inadequate care or skip needed care because they don’t have the money to pay for it.

· We will all get sick at some point in time, and access to health insurance is a critical part of ensuring that individuals and families are healthy and successful.

Marketplace:

· Thankfully starting today, uninsured and underinsured Texans will be able to shop in the health care marketplace and enroll in health plans that meet their needs.

· These plans will vary based on cost and out of pocket expenses, and coverage will begin on January 1st.

· Individuals and families between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level may be eligible for assistance with their premiums.

· In Texas there are an estimated 2.6 million people who may qualify for premium assistance in the marketplace.

· For individuals who are not eligible for assistance in the marketplace, premiums are still expected to be affordable.

· According to estimates from US HHS, premiums before tax credits are expected to be more than 16 percent lower than estimated.

· In Texas, an average of 54 qualified health plans are anticipated to be selling coverage in the marketplace – increasing competition and lowering costs for consumers.

· With tax credits, premiums will be even more affordable.

· A 27 year old in Texas making $25,000 could pay $133 per month for the lowest cost silver plan, and $83 per month for the lowest cost bronze plan after tax credits.

· For a family of four making $50,000 in Texas, premiums could be as low as $239 per month for silver plan and $57 per month for a bronze plan after tax credits.

· For those of you who are skeptical about the new health plans, I would encourage you to just take a look.

· You might be surprised to find that there are a variety of quality, affordable coverage options that meet your family’s health care and budget needs.

Medicaid Expansion
:

· While I am excited to see the marketplace running in Texas, I know there is more work to be done to ensure that all Texans have access to affordable health insurance.

· Expanding access to health insurance is such an important issue that I worked tirelessly to get Medicaid expansion on every possible bill this session.

· This expansion would have provided coverage to an estimated 1.5 million Texans, drawn down about $100 billion in federal funding and created more than 3 million jobs over 10 years.

· Unfortunately, our state leadership failed to take advantage of this opportunity or propose an alternative solution.

· I will continue to do my part to promote these new health insurance opportunities and Medicaid expansion.

· And I hope members of our community will inform their neighbors and friends about these new health options for Texans and the importance of expanding Medicaid in our state.

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