News Roundup: Despite Setbacks, Over A Million Texans Activated Affordable Care Act Coverage in 2018

Your daily roundup of Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelJuly 24, 2018 1:34 pm

A new report finds that more than a million Texans have activated their 2018 Affordable Care Act health insurance coverage.

Brian Sasser is with the Episcopal Health Foundation in Houston, which analyzed data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

“So basically this is looking at not only who signed up for an ACA health plan during open enrollment last fall, but who actually then activated that by paying their premium in 2018,” Sasser says. “So, it’s the most accurate information we have now about who has an active Affordable Care Act health insurance plan as we speak.”

This figure is up five percent from 2017, and that’s a little surprising for a few reasons. First off, the Trump Administration cut the enrollment period in half and cut the budget for advertising these health plans by 90 percent. Secondly, about 100,000 fewer Texans signed up for Affordable Care Act plans.

“But what these new numbers show is that there’s actually more people signed up using their Affordable Care Act Health Insurance now than there were in 2017,” Sasser says. “There’s actually 51,000 more Texans today that have ACA plans than that had it in 2017. And that’s despite all that confusion, that’s despite the shorter enrollment period, less advertisement about what the ACA plans could do.”

Sasser says that leads his group to conclude “that people want an effective health insurance plan, and right now, for more than a million Texans they’re getting that plan through The Affordable Care Act.”

Texas still has the largest number of people and the highest percentage of the population without health insurance in the country.

State Sen. Sylvia Garcia has announced that she’s resigning from the statehouse amid her run for Congress. The Houston Democrat is calling on Gov. Greg Abbott to hold a special election to fill her Texas Senate seat.  In a letter Monday, Garcia asked Abbott to schedule the election on November 6, the same day as the state’s general Election. Garcia posted a copy of the letter on Twitter.

Garcia is the Democratic candidate for the 29th Congressional District. She’s running to replace fellow Democrat U.S. Rep. Gene Green, who is retiring after more than 20 years in Congress.

Garcia is one of two Texas Democrats poised to become the first Latinas the state sends to Congress in November.

H-E-B has announced 25 finalists in its fifth annual Quest for Texas Best competition.

The Texas grocery chain made the food and drink picks after reviewing products from more than 700 entrepreneurs in nearly 140 cities across the state. The products hail from places like Houston and San Antonio – but also Wylie, Corsicana, and Bellville.

H-E-B released a video featuring a couple of the finalists’ reactions to the news:

Four winners – including a grand prize winner, will be selected in Austin next month. H-E-B will award $70,000 to be divided among the final four.