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Texas has a problem with lack of adequate healthcare access in many rural areas. This is partly due to the fact that healthcare and health insurance costs have been driven up largely by government involvement in those areas. State and federal mandates on insurers and health care providers play a role in driving up costs so high that in rural areas there is just not enough demand to support certain types of specialty healthcare. This leads to rural areas being under served in sensitive and expensive fields such as neonatal care.
We would prefer that this problem be addressed through private charitable fundraising rather than creating a new government program to try and fix a problem that is largely government-created.
However, in the case of this legislation, this one-time infrastructure grant program will have the foreseeable effect of saving the state money in the long term. The main beneficiaries of this grant program would be babies born prematurely who would ordinarily otherwise be transported at exorbitant cost to a larger facility with more experienced specialists who can provide appropriate care. A significant percentage of premature births in rural counties are funded under Medicaid, meaning the transportation is also publicly funded. Access to tele-medicine would allow many of those premature babies to receive the specialist care they need without having to be transported. The Medicaid savings would more than offset the cost of the grant.
Because this bill offends limited government by creating a new grant program but also supports limited government by leading to a reduction in Medicaid expenses, we remain neutral on HB 1697.