Thank you all for being here as we discuss an issue that, for so many Texans, is literally a matter of life or death.
Over the last several years, a lot has been made about the federal government's steady intrusion into all facets of daily life from how to educate your children, to how you run your business, to what sort of lightbulb you can buy for your home.
And one of the most invasive, costly and, might I add, personal intrusions, is in the area of health care.
In terms of economic cost, the effects of Obamacare will be devastating with Texas alone having to come up with an estimated $27 billion over 10 years starting in 2014 to cover expanded caseload growth and cost increases.
On a personal level, Obamacare's mandate will unconstitutionally punish Americans who don't buy health care insurance.
Again, this is only the latest example of this type of overreach, an overreach sparked and sustained by the misguided notion that Washington knows best in all things.
In Texas, we know better.
We know that states require the flexibility to solve local problems in their own ways, rewarding innovation and discouraging redundancy and waste.
That's why we're here today to sign SB 7, a collection of measures that are an answer to what's wrong with the federal healthcare system, providing $467 million in savings while improving health outcomes for Texans.
SB 7 provides flexibility through a variety of measures, opening the door to effective, innovative solutions Washington hasn't thought of, while containing costs and keeping the well-being of Texans squarely as the primary goal.
It also provides the framework for the establishment of new collaborations between health care providers and payers, which will greatly improve the coordination of care by aligning incentives with quality outcomes.
Additionally, the bill transforms our Medicaid and CHIP reimbursement model to one that rewards innovation, cost-efficiency and performance.
This legislation will also help us take a step closer to joining a state compact, which is a significant way for us to minimize the effects of the coming catastrophe that will accompany the full implementation of Obamacare if it's not stopped.
A compact with other states will enable additional levels of flexibility in the administration of health care programs, flexibility that's simply impossible under the federal program.
Along those lines, SB 7 calls for the development of a new Medicaid waiver program, giving us options in benefit design and eligibility that could save significant money while continuing to ensure the best in medical care.
Additionally, this bill helps protect those who need our protection the most, the unborn, underscoring our ongoing commitment that taxpayer money never be used to fund abortions.
The unavoidable fact is that Texas faces unique challenges when it comes to health care delivery, and Washington's "one size fits all" approach simply doesn't fit our specific needs.
SB 7 gives us the flexibility to develop our own solutions to these challenges, and when it comes to meeting challenges, I'd wager on the innovative spirit of Texans every single time.