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Designing Healthcare in Texas - 2014 Conference

How the Past & Present Will Guide the Future

Dr. Shah  Judge Emmett

National, state and local presenters joined over 200 leaders from the Houston and Harris County healthcare community who attended the two-day Designing Healthcare in Texas Conference, held June 3 - 4, 2014. Their presence and enthusiasm reflected the community’s commitment to finding fresh approaches to helping more people gain access to healthcare. A first step to creating change begins with the communication taking place among those at the conference, and outreach to request support and involvement from those who could not attend.

While adoption of Medicaid expansion is an ongoing challenge, new options may provide a solution. Two presenters suggested plans that could redirect federal funding to enable those who remain uninsured to afford private plans. Possibilities include “premium assistance plans,” suggested by Robert Greenwald, or “private option plans,” suggested by Joy Johnson Wilson.

Click here to see the photos posted on flickr.

Highlights from the various speakers include:

Alice Murray, President, Dallas Citizens Council, explained the four facts for why Dallas’ business leaders support a Medicaid solution:

  • $762 million a year is spent on unreimbursed care (outspending all other public expense by $200 million) at Parkland in Dallas
  • At 31%, Dallas County’s residents have one of the highest rates of uninsured in the state (24% are uninsured statewide)
  • Already-insured Texans pay an additional $1,800 a year (per person) in increased hospital charges (as offsets), increased insurance premiums and  property taxes to compensate for those without insurance, according to reports from the Baker Institute
  • The Baker Institute projects that instituting Medicaid expansion would bring a $270 billion boost to the state’s economy from now through 2016

Dr. Stephen Klineberg, co-director of the Kinder Institute, described Houston as the single-most racially diverse city in the nation, saying it owes much of its success to its entrepreneurial spirit and the hard-work ethic of immigrants. He painted a picture of Houston becoming an increasingly green city as its 10 major bayous are revamped to offer 250 miles of hiking and biking trails.

Veronica Moore, Region VI, U.S. Department of Health and Human services, stressed the importance of health literacy around insurance terminology and usage, as well as community-wide outreach about the importance of access to healthcare.

Judge Ed Emmett, Harris County's highest-level elected official, shared his view that the public understands how complex healthcare is yet wants to do what is right for everyone. The public needs to unite their voices to send a message about wanting an answer based in cooperation, focus, and civility. “Healthcare defines us as a society,” he said. “Leaving people without healthcare is not good for them, our community, or our society.”

Click on the titles below to access PDFs of the available PowerPoint presentations:

Texas Medicaid 101
Carisa Magee, Manager, Medicaid/CHIP Program Policy, Texas Health and Human Services Commission

New Directions in Medicaid: Initiatives for People with Mental Illness
Dena Stoner, Senior Policy Advisor, Texas Department of State Health Services

Expanding Access to Healthcare In Texas: Turning the Affordable Care Act Challenges into Opportunities
Robert Greenwald, J.D., Director of the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation, Harvard Law School

Regulatory Changes to the Health Insurance Industry
Katrina Daniel, R.N., Senior Associate Commissioner for Life, Health & Licensing, Texas Department of Insurance (TDI)

What Accounts for Health Disparities
Stephen Klineberg, Ph.D., Professor Co-Director, Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research 

Communities in Action: Building for the Future
Alice Murray, President, Dallas Citizens Council

Designing Coverage for All: Closing the Coverage Gaps
Joy Johnson Wilson, Health Policy Director, National Conference of State Legislatures

Community Outreach on Current Health and Human Services Initiatives
Veronica Moore, Intergovernmental Affairs, Region VI, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Closing Remarks by The Honorable Judge Ed Emmett, Harris County

Read the speaker bios here.
Read the press release here.