April 1, 2011
Legislative Update: Continuity of Prescription Drug Coverage Scheduled for a Vote!
HB 1405 is scheduled for a floor vote on TUESDAY, April 5th! After being unanimously passed out of the House Insurance Committee last week, the bill will now be heard on the House Floor.
TAKE ACTION NEXT WEEK:
>> Join other MS Activists at the Capitol on Tuesday, April 5 at 8am in the Rotunda. Help rally support for HB 1405!
>> If you can’t make it to Austin, contact your Representative and ask for their support by the end of the day on Monday, April 4!
>> For more information, check out the Action Alert sent earlier today!
>> If you can attend the Capitol day, email Linnea.Nasman@nmss.org to RSVP. If you have questions, email Linnea or call (512) 340-2711.
Follow our MS Priority Bills using our Bill Tracker. Click here to download the document!
Texas State Budget: Debate Begins
Your legislators are at the Capitol discussing and debating the budget—and making decisions that will affect all Texans. The debate began on Thursday and will continue over the weekend. You can watch the House live in action online at http://www.house.state.tx.us/video-audio/
Lawmakers are considering making a nearly 25% reduction (a $16 billion loss) to Health and Human Services spending in order to fill an estimated $27 billion hole in the Texas budget. This means major cuts to community-based services for Texans with disabilities.
From the original bill, some money has been added, but it still is $23 billion short of maintaining current services provided to Texans. The Senate’s budget bill, SB1 is looking less damaging, but still contains huge cuts.
Here are some of the latest budget details from Austin:
- On Thursday, the House began debate on HB 275, a bill to use a portion of the “rainy day fund” to balance the budget. The bill passed 142-2.
- Also up for debate was HB 4, a bill that laid out a variety of controversial spending cuts. Up for debate were 65 amendments, some restoring funding and other requiring further cuts. Many of the amendments were “tabled” or thrown out. The bill passed on a party-line vote of 100-46.
- On Friday, the House begins debate on HB 1. The debates are likely to pit funding for education against health & human services, as many legislators continue to seek methods for balancing the budget without raising taxes.
- From the Texas Tribune: Confused by the State Budget? You’re not alone. Learn more about the budget’s big picture here.
Office of Public Insurance Counsel Targeted by Amendment in HB 1 Budget Bill
Rep. Isaac and Rep. Torres are proposing amendments to HB 1 that will eliminate funding for the Office of Public Insurance Counsel (OPIC). During the last year, the National MS Society has worked with OPIC on issues that are important to people living with MS.
You may know the story of David Rankin, who was diagnosed in 2003. David was unfairly denied disability benefits due to deceptive language in his insurance policy, called a “discretionary clause.” His family was emotionally and financially devastated. Read more about David’s story and this issue here.
Together, the National MS Society worked with OPIC and other organizations to ban discretionary clauses. Last December, we were successful! The ban will be effective starting in June 2011.
OPIC represents the interests of every Texan. They provide legal expertise, strive for a fair insurance market, and save policyholders money.
Eliminating OPIC won’t save any revenue, and it will eliminate an agency that protects consumers and fills a role that consumer advocacy groups and TDI cannot replace.
We have reached out to activists in Rep. Torres and Rep. Isaac’s districts to ask them to share this information their Representative’s offices. We respectfully ask them to reconsider these amendments and support the continuation of OPIC and its important role for Texans.
Want to join our movement at the Texas Capitol?
Contact your Government Affairs Coordinator, Linnea Nasman, at (512) 340-2711 or at firstname.lastname@example.org