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March 24, 2003   
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Shapleigh Introduces the Texas Health Improvement Act to Address the State's Health Care Crisis

Senator Shapliegh
Senator Eliot Shaplieg talks about the Texas Health Improvement Act.

Austin - Senator Eliot Shapleigh of El Paso introduced the Texas Health Improvement Act today to address what he called the critical health challenges facing Texas. According to Shapleigh, Committee Substitute to Senate Bill (CSSB) 342 would deal with two major aspects of the problem in innovative ways. During a Capitol press conference, Shapleigh said Texas ranks first among the fifty states in the percentage of the population without health insurance. All but two of the counties along the Texas-Mexico border are already designated as federally underserved areas.

Among the provisions of CSSB 342 is the creation of the Border Health Corps, which would provide student loan repayments, capped at $10,000 per year, for doctors and nurses for each year of service they provide along the border. Shapleigh also wants his proposed legislation to send the strong statement that with a Texas job comes health insurance by making the provision of health insurance to a company's employees a factor in awarding government contracts. The State Affairs Committee considered and heard testimony on CSSB 342 this afternoon and left the bill pending.

The following bills were passed by the Senate today:

  • CSSB 173, sponsored by Flower Mound Senator Jane Nelson, would amend the law granting deferred payment of property taxes to include any person on active duty in the United States armed forces during a war or national emergency.
  • CSSB 494, sponsored by Senator Shapleigh, would require a wide range of insurance providers to maintain, and update at least quarterly, an Internet site listing physicians and providers that may be used by plan enrollees and indicate which providers are accepting new patients.
  • SB 514, by Senator Jon Lindsay, would authorize a commissioners court to restrict, by class of vehicle, through traffic to two or more designated lanes on a county highway.

The Senate will reconvene Tuesday, March 25, 2003, at 11:00 a.m.

Session video and all other Senate webcast recordings can be accessed from the Senate website's Audio/Video Archive.