Healthcare law would increase percentage of Texans with coverage, official says

AUSTIN -- The proportion of Texans with health insurance would rise from 74 percent to 91 percent under the new federal healthcare law, state Medicaid Director Billy Millwee told lawmakers Monday.

Also, the state is prepared to implement the new rules regardless of whether the U.S. Supreme Court declares them constitutional, Millwee said. Texas and a number of other states have challenged the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in court.

"I think we're going to be well-positioned, whether it's found to be constitutional or not," Millwee said.

The House Public Health and Insurance committees met at the Capitol to hear how the new federal law will affect the state.

Katrina Daniel, an associate commissioner at the Texas Insurance Department, said the agency is working on developing model health plans for the state. She said the federal law requires insurers to provide policy information in a standardized template that will help individuals and companies compare plans and choose one best for them.

The Republican-controlled Legislature has repeatedly complained about the changes in healthcare law and has not passed legislation that would allow the state to comply with them. Much of Monday's hearing was taken up with testimony about how the costs of all healthcare programs, including Medicare and Medicaid, are rising at an unsustainable rate.

The Texas Legislature meets in odd-numbered years, but the committees have hearings out of session to monitor government agencies.