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HIX Lags in Texas, as Healthcare Providers Wait on Feds

Jacqueline Fellows, for HealthLeaders Media, October 11, 2013

Without federal support, hospitals and health systems in Texas are hampered in their efforts to help the uninsured enroll in health insurance exchanges.

Texas providers with large uninsured patient populations are hoping to have a hand in making enrollment in the health insurance exchanges (HIX) smoother, but for now, it's a waiting game.

Fort Worth, Texas–based JPS Health Network, which includes a 537-bed acute care safety-net hospital as well as 50 community health and specialty centers, illustrates the situation. The health system wants to help its patients understand what is happening with their health insurance, but it can't.

JPS, which applied to the federal government to become a certified entity so that some 60–65 of its staff could be HIX application counselors, says its efforts are stalled.

"We're still waiting to hear from the federal government," says Jill "J.R." Labbe, vice president of communications and community affairs for JPS.

Labbe says once the health system receives federal approval, counselors will be most likely placed in JPS community centers where patients are already enrolling in JPS Connection, a program that offers discounted health care services to patients who meet certain income requirements. It's possible that the JPS counselors could fan out to help patients in other venues, too.

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