in Houston, Texas
Texas state Rep. John Zerwas says his plan for health insurance exchange would promote competition, keep costs down
Thursday, Jan 13, 2011, 05:48PM CST
By Mark Lisheron



Rather than wait for the federal government to impose a system on Texas, Rep. John Zerwas is proposing a bill that would establish the third state-run insurance exchange in the country.

Exchanges in Utah and Massachusetts serve as a kind of managed competition among companies offering health insurance to clients. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, familiarly known as ObamaCare, requires that states prove that they can run such an exchange by 2013 or be forced to join the American Health Benefit Exchange.

Zerwas, a Republican anesthesiologist from Katy and a steadfast foe of the health reform package, said Texas would be far better off creating and running its own health insurance exchange. The exchange, he said, would supplement rather than supplant the current health insurance market.

John ZerwasZERWAS

“Something must be done to ensure health insurance remains affordable, and the goal of this bill is to keep the cost of coverage down by promoting competition and ensuring Texas families and Texas employers have the right to choose their own coverage,” Zerwas said.

While the exchange or insurance connector model is far from free market health insurance, Zerwas said it encouraged companies to differentiate their coverage packages and to better inform customers about exactly what they are buying. Zerwas' exchange would offer at least a minimum level of protection for the entire spectrum of hospitalization, medical and surgical care and emergency services.

Zerwas was in the audience this morning at the Hilton Hotel in downtown Austin for a Texas Public Policy Foundation forum as several health care experts warned Texans not to stand idle now that the state attorney general and two dozen other state attorneys general have sued to have ObamaCare repealed. 

"The worst thing you can do is wait, wait, wait, because in 2014 we will let them tell us their way of doing it," John Goodman, president of the National Center for Policy Analysis, told an audience for a panel discussion on health insurance exchanges.

Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or


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