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Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr.: District 27
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Press Release
August 9, 2002
Contact: Doris Sanchez
(512) 463-0127
Interim Committee on Binational Health Benefit Plan Coverage to hold hearing in Austin

Who: State Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr., Co-Chairman, and members of the Committee
What: Interim Committee on Binational Health Benefit Plan Coverage
When: Tuesday, August 13, 2002 at 9 a.m.
Where: Room E1.016, the Capitol Extension
Where: To determine need for binational health benefit plan coverage

AUSTIN, TX--The Binational Health Benefit Plan Coverage was created through an amendment that Sen. Lucio, Chairman of the Border Affairs Committee, was successful in adding to House Bill 2498 by state Rep. Pat Haggerty, R-El Paso during the 77th Legislature. Sen. Lucio sponsored the legislation in the Senate.

"In these dire economic times, it is the responsibility of the state of Texas to be the lead partner in a bi-national and multi-state effort to study the lack of health care along both sides of our Texas-Mexico Border," said Sen. Lucio.

"Health problems and illnesses borne out of the lack of infrastructure along the Border region know no boundaries," explained Sen. Lucio. "Pollution and smog in the Juarez region daily affect innocent victims in the El Paso region. Water-borne diseases and pollution from idling trucks in Nuevo Laredo do not discriminate when they infect and sicken our citizens in Laredo. Airborne diseases in Matamoros and Reynosa are not confined to south of the Border and threaten the health care of our citizens in McAllen and Brownsville.

It is time for us to act in a bi-national, multi-state effort to address our lack of health infrastructure along our Border communities," added Sen. Lucio.

The interim committee will afford the state an opportunity to begin to identify the many complex and unique health issues along the Texas-Mexico Border. The goal of the study is to formulate recommendations for the development of affordable, accessible health care coverage along both sides of the Border.

The specific charges of the subcommittee are:

1. Determine the need for binational health benefit plan coverage.

2. Assess the health care needs of the Border area and evaluate those needs that can be served by various types of providers.

3. Assess the affordability, cost-effectiveness, economic impact and improved health status achievable through a binational health benefit plan coverage.

Along with Sen. Lucio, state Rep. Jim Solis, D-Harlingen, was appointed to the committee, as well as the following: Texas Department of Insurance Commissioner Jose Montemayor; Texas Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Don Gilbert; Dr. Elena Marin from Su Clinica Familiar in Harlingen; Mr. James Springfield, executive vice president/chief operating officer of Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen; and Ms. Irene A. Armendariz, executive director of Superior Health Plan from El Paso.

NOTE: Invited Testimony Only