House lawmakers have given the first OK to a key piece of Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst's health reform plan, after efforts to turn the bill into a health care Christmas tree fell short.
As crafted, SB 8 gives the Health and Human Services Commission permission to test various performance-based payment programs to increase efficiency and find ways to link payments to improved patient outcomes. Despite a few clarifying amendments, lawmakers' efforts to tack on controversial measures like abortion and end-of-life reporting, Medical Board reform and scope-of-practice expansions were knocked down.
The bill is "an attempt to rein in the high cost of health care while pursuing greater outcomes," said Rep. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, the House sponsor of the bill authored by Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Lewisville.
The bill hit a hurdle last week, when the Federal Trade Commission released a letter saying the bill's antitrust exemption for so-called health care collaboratives — partnerships between doctors and hospitals — “poses a substantial risk of consumer harm, by increasing costs and decreasing access to health care.”
State lawmakers have fired back. On Monday, Dewhurst released a statement blasting the Obama administration for being "dead-set on stopping permissive, free-market alternatives to Obamacare."
The measure requires one more vote in the House before it heads back to the Senate, and will likely end up in conference committee to work out the differences.