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The percentage of Texans with health insurance would rise from 74 percent to 91 percent under the new federal health care law, a state official told lawmakers Monday.

State Medicaid Director Billy Millwee also said the state is prepared to implement the new rules regardless of whether the U.S. Supreme Court declares them constitutional. Texas, along with a number of other states, has challenged the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in court.

"I think we're going to be well-positioned, whether it's found to be constitutional or not," Millwee said.

The law for the first time requires all Americans to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty. Democrats say the law will make the nation's health care more efficient, while Republicans complain it allows the government to overstep its authority.

The House Public Health and Insurance Committees met at the Capitol to hear about how the new federal law will affect the state. Rep. Lois Kolkhorst, chairwoman of the public health committee, said she was concerned that small and medium-sized businesses may not be prepared to the new requirements on them to offer health insurance to employees.

Katrina Daniel, an associate commissioner at the Texas Department of Insurance, said the agency was working on developing model health plans for the state. She said the federal law requires insurers to provide policy information in a standardized template that will help individuals and companies to compare plans and choose one best for them.

The Republican-controlled Legislature has repeatedly complained about the changes in health care law and has failed to pass legislation that would allow the state to set comply with it. Much of Monday's hearing was taken up with testimony about how the costs of all health care programs, including Medicare and Medicaid, are rising at an unsustainable rate.

The Texas Legislature only meets in odd-numbered years, but the committees hold hearings when they are out of session to monitor government agencies.

www.reliableins.net
Posted 9:22 AM

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