Today Is an Historic Day

Today is an historic day, with millions now able to sign up for health insurance for the first time, thanks to the Health Insurance Marketplace under the Affordable Care Act.

It’s a good day for the country, and it’s an especially good day for many Texans.

Based on current Census numbers, 6.4 million Texans are without health insurance, including more than 850,000 children. That’s one in four of our neighbors who don’t have coverage.

Beginning today, that will change. Today through March 31, 2014, Texans can shop for health insurance coverage in the Marketplace. For those who enroll by Dec. 15, insurance coverage will begin Jan. 1, 2014. For many, the federal government will offset the cost through premium tax credits.

In fact, families of four who make between $70,650 and $94,200 and don’t receive coverage through their employer will have the out-of-pocket cost of their Marketplace premiums capped at 9.5 percent of their income. The premiums for families making between $47,100 and $70,650 will be capped between 6.3 – 9.5 percent of income, while premiums for those making between $31,322 and $47,100 will be capped at 2 – 6.3 percent of income.

Exact rates are being released today, but early reports indicate that cost for Texans will be lower than the national average – in the D/FW area alone, forty-three plans will be available for $217 per month.

Health care reform is moving forward despite the efforts of Governor Perry and Attorney General Greg Abbott. While Perry did succeed in blocking Medicaid expansion – denying 1.5 million Texans health insurance and costing our state 200,000 new jobs, Perry has been unable to stop the Marketplace from launching.

To try to slow the success of the Marketplace, Perry is trying to pressure the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) to create extraneous state regulations on health insurance “navigators,” whose job it is to help Texans apply for coverage. Attorney General Abbott has also chimed in, raising phony concerns about privacy.

Last week, I sent the TDI Commissioner a letter detailing my concerns about Perry’s directives. I also traveled to Austin yesterday to speak out against these intimidation tactics and in support of the local non-profits, city governments, and other organizations who will be negatively impacted if the agency gives in to Perry’s demands.

It’s clear that all the intimidation and scare tactics, the threats of a government shutdown and reading Dr. Seuss on the floor of the U.S. Senate come down to one thing – some Republican leaders don’t want to see anything associated with President Obama succeed, no matter how much it will help people across our state and country.

But I think it’s going to succeed, regardless. More importantly, millions of Americans will have real access to affordable health care for the first time. We just need to help get the word out. Click here for more information about the Health Insurance Marketplace or call 1-800-318-2596.