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No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated.
According to the Teacher Retirement System, the provisions of the bill could result in a cost of $1.3 million annually for the TRS-ActiveCare program, a health benefit plan available to employees of public school districts and charter schools. Increased program costs would be passed along through plan design changes or increased premiums paid by school districts or participating employees. The level of increase may vary by the employee's plan choice within TRS-ActiveCare.
The bill would add a subchapter to Chapter 1367 of the Insurance Code to require a health benefit plan to provide coverage for the cost of a medically necessary hearing aid and related services and supplies for a covered individual who is 18 years of age or younger. The required coverage would be limited to one hearing aid in each ear every three years.
The subchapter would apply to certain health benefit plans including, but not limited to: group health coverage made available by a school district; a small employer health benefit plan; and a church benefits board under Chapter 22 of the Business Organizations Code. The bill would exempt certain entities from the subchapter.
Our issue with HB 2979 is that it would require a health benefit plan to provide coverage hearing aids and any related services or supplies to persons 18 years old or younger.
This legislation represents yet another example of the government interfering with private businesses. The high cost of health care and health insurance is partly the result of government interference in the form of mandates. Every time the government tinkers with the system to take choices away from providers and patients, costs tend to rise.
Creating new state mandates on private enterprise abridges our limited government and free market principles. Therefore, we oppose HB 2979.
It is worth noting that Texas has one of the highest number of insurance mandates in the U.S.