Education Committee Chair Announces Draft Insurance Bill
AUSTIN - Senate Education Committee Chair Teel Bivins today discussed a draft bill that would set up an insurance plan for public school employees and teachers.
"My hope is that we can work through this, address the major issues and get to a position where our committee can sign off on a bill that we would then file," Bivins said.
Because the bill has not been filed, it has not been assigned a number.
The draft bill would establish coverage consisting of at least five tiers with differing levels of coverage. Each tier would include health benefits. Additional coverages might include accidental death and dismemberment and loss of salary. School districts would be able to choose whether to participate in the program beginning August 1, 2002.
The State of Texas and school districts would share the cost.
"If the basic coverage, for example, costs $125 and we're only able under this plan to distribute $100," Bivins said, "the school district would not be able to access that $100 unless they came up with $25 per month so they can cover these teachers with at least the basic coverage."
Under the draft bill, school districts that are already providing adequate teacher and employee health insurance may be able to use the state money to fund pay increases.
Bivins said the as-yet unfiled bill is a working document, a starting point for final legislation to be worked out over the next few days. Bivins' remarks came in an Education Committee hearing devoted to the topic, the fifth such hearing this session.
In other news, the Senate voted final approval of six bills in today's session. Among the measures approved was Senate Bill (SB) 908.
SB 908, authored by El Paso Sen. Eliot Shapleigh, would require the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to develop and implement the Program for All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) statewide.
PACE is a nationwide program that provides the elderly and their families with an alternative to nursing home care. It is an optional benefit under both Medicare and Medicaid that offers comprehensive medical and social services that can be provided at an adult day health center, in the home, and or at inpatient facilities.
At the end of today's session, San Antonio Sen. Jeff Wentworth reminded his fellow senators that noon today was the deadline for any of their proposed new district lines. Wentworth is the chair of the Senate Redistricting Committee. The Legislature is responsible for redrawing the boundaries for Congressional, Texas House, Texas Senate and State Board of Education Districts. It is done every 10 years, following the U.S. Census.
The Senate stands adjourned until 10 a.m. Tuesday.