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Op Ed: Keep Government out of Texas Business: Employees Deserve Affordable Health Care

In the small business community, we often say that “the customer is king.” While true, the unspoken champions are our local businesses’ hardworking employees who provide the quality service and experiences that we strive for.

As employers, it is our responsibility to provide our workers and their families with the support and benefits they need to continue to show up for our customers in a healthy and productive way. That is why offering quality, affordable health care and prescription drug coverage to our workforce is always a top priority.

Regrettably, our legislators introduced bills SB 1137/HB 2021 that threaten to take this ability away. If passed, these heavy-handed mandates would increase the cost of health care by millions of dollars by preempting the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). ERISA provides clear guidelines that empower employers to provide their workers with comprehensive and tailored health coverage. This is especially important for large businesses that operate across several states, as it allows them to offer uniform coverage to all employees.

While ERISA has long exempted these larger businesses from having to comply with a patchwork of regulations across multiple states, SB 1137/HB 2021 would make it significantly more difficult for businesses of all sizes to continue offering competitive benefits, while also managing costs that increase every year, to the detriment of communities across Texas.

Unfortunately, this is not a new threat. In 2021, Texas lawmakers passed HB 1919, another big government health care mandate that has made it much harder for small businesses to offer affordable, quality health plans to their workers. HB 1919 left small businesses and Texas families holding the bag – and now we are seeing higher costs at the pharmacy counter, threatening both our health and financial wellbeing. And our lawmakers are trying to do it again.

Texas employers do not like the government meddling with their businesses. According to a recent poll by the Texas Association of Business of its members, Texas business owners overwhelmingly oppose legislation that would limit their choices and/or increase the costs of health and prescription drug coverage for their employees:

  • Seventy-five percent opposed legislation that would allow the state to interfere with an employer’s ability to design, offer, or otherwise make health benefits available to employees,
  • And 68 percent wanted to keep the ability to offer patients lower-cost prescriptions by using in-network pharmacies or pharmacies affiliated with a pharmacy benefit manager (PBM).
These days, health care coverage is one of the most important and valuable benefits employers can offer our employees and their families. As leaders in the business community, we need to protect our right to do what is best for business, in this case, offering our employees the affordable health plan and prescription drug coverage they need.

Texas legislators have long been champions of the small business community. We hope they will continue to stand by Texas businesses and be the voice for hardworking employers, employees, and families. We need them to say no to SB 1137/ HB 2021.

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