Committee seeks fairness in insurance industry

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The official onset of the fall season brings about an exciting time of year in our communities — from homecoming rallies and football games, fall festivals and canned food drives, to crisp early mornings in the deer stand.

I hope you'll take some time in the coming weeks and months to breathe in the autumn air, and thank God for fall.

With that, here's an update from your State Capitol.

Insurance

The committee of focus this week is the House Committee on Insurance. This nine-member com-mittee has purview over a number of state agencies, including the Texas Department of Insurance.

While this committee also examines all matters pertaining to both industry companies and issuing entities, keenly important this interim will be matters relating to the Texas Windstorm Insurance Agency, which provides insurance for those living in disaster-prone areas along the Texas Coast.

As we've discussed in most other columns this interim, Hurricane Harvey reared its ugly head more than one year ago. As of August 2018, TWIA has experienced an estimated $1.6 billion in total losses from this natural disaster, which has caused them to raise rates for residential and commercial policyholders.

Throughout the interim, and into next session, the Insurance Committee with play a critical role in identifying possible gaps and vulnerabilities within these programs, while also analyzing the ability of the programs to adequately cover policyholders.

Additionally, this committee oversees the health insurance market in Texas. Whether you're a small business owner providing health insurance to your employees, or a hard-working East Texan try-ing to make ends meet, we are all aware that health insurance premiums and deductibles have been rising at an all-time rate.

Realizing these unfortunate circumstances, the House Insurance Committee is exploring any oppor-tunities that the state has through federal waivers or various other mechanisms to provide critically important aid to citizens who don't deserve to be forced into a poor financial situation just to have healthcare for their family.

Finally, I look forward to hearing the committee's findings on surprise medical billing practices, as I firmly believe that, no matter the circumstances, all Texans deserve a fully transparent process when receiving medical care.

The committee plans to pinpoint where this practice occurs most frequently, and make recommen-dations that would help increase accountability in such cases.

Reminders

The mobile office is on the road this month and looks forward to seeing you on the following dates, in the following locations: Oct. 17 at the Houston County Courthouse Annex in Crockett from 9-11 a.m., or at the Trinity County Courthouse in Groveton from 1:30-3:30 p.m.; Oct. 24 at the San Augustine County Courthouse in San Augustine from 9-11 a.m.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact our office if we can help you in any way. Our district office may be reached at (936) 634-2762, or you can call my Capitol office at (512) 463-0508.

Trent Ashby represents District 57, which includes Madison County, in the Texas Legislature.

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