House Health Bill: Texas Lawmakers Seek To Protect Hospitals, Hawaii Gets An Exemption

Employers in Hawaii are required to pay 98.5 percent of the health insurance costs of full-time workers, an arrangement that has earned the state an exemption from the employer mandate in health reform bill being considered by the House of Representatives, the Associated Press reports. Three paragraphs in the legislation would allow Hawaii to opt out of reform requirements. No other state would be exempt from the effects of the legislation, despite efforts by some senators. Hawaii also sets minimum requirements for health insurance policies and prevents insurers from excluding people for preexisting conditions (Niesse, 11/05). 

House members from Texas, meanwhile, "are mounting a late effort to delay new limits on physician-owned hospitals, putting them at odds with Democratic leaders who think the facilities drive up health care costs," The Dallas Morning News reports. House Democrats have proposed restrictions that would prevent new doctor-owned hospitals from opening, and curb the expansion of existing ones. But, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, "is pushing two amendments to soften the restrictions, including a grandfather clause for more than 100 doctor-owned hospitals under development. ... Texas has 67 physician-owned hospitals – more than any other state – with about 50 more that have yet to open" (Michaels, 11/5).

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