TX House Passes Bill That Would Label Cards Of Those With O-care Subsidies

May 12, 2015 1:21 p.m.

The Texas state House on Monday passed a bill that would add a label to the insurance cards of individuals who purchased health insurance plans via an exchange established through Obamacare.

After the bill cleared an initial vote in the House last week, legislators voted 129-8 to approve the bill in a final vote on Monday, according to the Texas House clerk’s office.

House Bill 1514, sponsored by Republican state Rep. J.D. Sheffield, would add the label “QHP” to the cards of individuals who purchased plans through the exchange, and “QHP-S” for those who receive subsidies.

Supporters of the bill say that the labels will help doctors understand the type of insurance coverage a patient has and remind patients to continue with their insurance payments, according to the Texas Tribune.

Neurologist Dr. Sara Austin testified on behalf of the Texas Medical Association in support of the legislation. In her written testimony, Austin said that insurance companies provide individuals with a 90-day grace period when they fall behind on their payments. Insurance companies must offer insurance for the 90 days, but if the individual does not pay at the end of the three months, insurance companies can terminate the insurance and demand a refund from doctors for the final 60 days of the grace period, according to Austin.

Austin said the label “lets the physician office know that the 90-day grace period applies and provides information necessary for the physician to remind the patient about the importance of continuing to pay his or her portion of the premium.”

However, critics of the bill worry that the labels could lead to discrimination.

“Other than creating a group that you’re going to discriminate against, I don’t see any purpose for indicating that people are getting a subsidy,” Jose E. Camacho, executive director of the Texas Association of Community Health Centers, told the Texas Tribune.

Jamie Dudensing, chief executive of the Texas Association of Health Plans, said insurers are “very concerned” about the bill, according to the Texas Tribune. Dudensing said that the labels could result in doctors discriminating against patients who receive subsidies.

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