1.5 million Americans – more than 150,000 Texans – have chosen to join a Health Care Sharing Ministry to provide for their families’ health care needs. The Alliance represents the majority of these federally-defined ministries, which are 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, charitable communities of like-minded religious believers that facilitate the sharing of medical expenses between their members. These ministries offer Texans the only 100% pro-life health care solution that is consistent with their Biblical beliefs. The Texas House Insurance Committee recently reported HB 573 for full floor consideration. Contrary to the assertions made by the committee chairman, HB 573 is NOT a compromise supported by the majority of ministries, who oppose the bill and have for months tried in vain to work with Chairman Oliverson on clear and precise bill language that would deter bad actors and protect religious exercise.
- HB 573 expands government life-and-death power over religious organizations. This harmful legislation would significantly expand the jurisdiction of the Department of Insurance over religious ministries. The bill grants the government bureaucracy the power to impose unlimited requirements on Health Care Sharing Ministries as part of an onerous registration ordeal – or else be shut down in Texas.
- HB 573 discriminates against Christians. HB 573 directly threatens religious freedom by requiring Health Care Sharing Ministries to comply with its incoherent and unworkable regulatory scheme, while imposing no such requirements on for-profit, secular health care sharing organizations.
- HB 573 violates the First Amendment. HB 573 would restrict First Amendment-protected speech by prohibiting ministries from communicating factual information about their programs, including the free or discounted services included in membership. The bill also compels disclosure of member demographics and brazenly dictates the content of advertisements, down to the font size.
- HB 573 eviscerates the presumption of innocence. HB 573 eliminates the burden of proof on the government to prove a case before shutting down a ministry by granting the Attorney General preemptive, “emergency” power to shut down any ministry on the basis of his beliefs about the ministry’s alleged conduct.
- HB 573 punishes good actors but ignores bad actors. HB 573 imposes its regulatory burdens only on the religious ministries that have operated in good faith for almost 30 years, while leaving untouched the fly-by-night, newer, for-profit secular organizations that have harmed and misled consumers.
- HB 573 replaces current law that’s already working. The Texas Attorney General has used his existing power to prosecute for-profit, secular organizations that are purported to be bad actors. Yet in the name of consumer protection, HB 573 targets the religious ministries who had nothing to do with such devastating cases of consumer harm and have been complying with current law.
- HB 573 would force Health Care Sharing Ministries to lie. HB 573 requires ACA-exempt ministries to tell prospective members that they could be subject to the ACA mandate penalty.
- HB 573 imposes unworkable requirements. HB 573 requires: private disclosure of all financial terms of administrative vendor contracts (including those with confidentiality clauses); scripted disclaimers that would consume half of a 30-second radio/video ad; reporting of consumer complaints made to the state that the ministry doesn’t know about; and the public disclosure of the phone number of each ministry’s top leader.
For more facts and information about Texas HB 573, read our legislative claim and response.
Texas HB 573 has been scheduled for a vote in the Texas House of Representatives on Wednesday, May 12th.
Texas residents and supporters of Health Care Sharing Ministries should take a stand for choice in Texas and contact members of the Texas House of Representatives and tell them to vote “NO” on HB 573.