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Family farmers call for tougher CAFO regulations in Farm Bill; The Midwest and Northeast brace for record high temperature in heatwave; Financial-justice advocates criticize crypto regulation bill; Ohio advocates: New rules strengthen protections for sexual-assault victims.

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The RNC kicks off its election integrity effort, Democrats sound a warning bell about conservatives' Project 2025, and Republicans suggest funding cuts to jurisdictions with legal cases against Trump.

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As summer nears, America's newest and largest international dark sky sanctuary beckons, rural job growth is up, but full recovery remains elusive, rural Americans living in prison towns support a transition, while birth control is more readily available in rural areas.

Survey: Hospital Consolidation Makes Employee Healthcare Tougher in TX

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Wednesday, April 19, 2023   

Small businesses owners in Texas are looking for help from lawmakers as the cost they pay to provide employees with health care coverage continues to rise.

A survey by Small Business for America's Future found participants believe hospital consolidations are a prime reason for the increased costs, and 80% claim they're making care availability and quality in their communities worse and more expensive.

Many small business owners struggling to provide employees with health coverage drop or cut benefits.

Elizabeth Frisch, owner of the Thrival Company and Your Corporate Shrink, said it just makes it harder to attract quality candidates.

"You know, employers like me, I'm willing to pay," Frisch explained. "But I haven't turned a profit in years, because most of my profit goes for health insurance, because it's the right thing to do."

Small businesses employ almost half of the Texas workforce, according to the Small Business Administration, which estimates they make up 99.8% of the state's 3 million businesses.

The Hospital Equity and Accountability Project said health systems use mergers to expand into predominantly white, suburban areas, while abandoning hospitals in urban and rural communities of color.

As a result of consolidations in their region, small business owners surveyed said 61% of people have fewer choices about where to receive care. Frisch, a 30-year Texas resident and small business owner for 20 years, said it's something she regularly hears from employees.

"If you can imagine if really serious stuff happens, you want to be able to choose your doctor," Frisch pointed out. "And unfortunately the way the consolidations have gone, there's these 'networks.' And you have to stay in that network or else. Sometimes you have no coverage, or very little."

A majority of the 1,000 survey participants said it's important federal and state governments intervene.

A bill was introduced in the Texas Legislature this month to shift how employers build health plans and allow them to steer patients to more efficient providers.


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