TRAVIS COUNTY, Texas -- Travis County commissioners Tuesday agreed to postpone a vote on the county health district's budget. This comes after last week's decision to shut down the county's nonprofit insurance provider.
Sendero Health Plans, created by Central Health, provides insurance on the Affordable Care Act marketplace. About 24,000 members could be faced with the task of changing over their health coverage if the provider gets cut from the budget. Some could be left uninsured.
"You're going to disrupt the lives of 24,000 people and their families," said Fred Lewis, attorney and Central Health advocate. "I'm confident that if the community is listened to and if the data is revealed to the public that Central Health, if it makes the best decision in the interest of the poor and the community, we'll continue Sendero and we'll adopt their plan."
Postpoining the decision gives more community members a chance to come forward with support for Central Health's Sendero plan.
"Poor people need health care, and health care is a human right, so I think they should reconsider their decision on this," Colony Park resident Brandon Reed said.
Artist Chia Guillory was diagnosed with aggressive cancer and had to start treatment immediately. She spoke Tuesday in support of Sendero.
"I hadn't been insured for years and years and then when the marketplace became available and through the assistance through Central Health I've been insured and I'm here today because of it," Guillory said.
The court hopes postponing will give them more time to look over the options.
"Perspectives may differ, facts should not differ," Precinct 1 Commissioner Jeff Travillion said. "So, I think if we put a side by side together, we can talk about the manner in which and the places in which we can best serve the people who desperately need this service.
But if the decision to shut down Sendero holds true, Central Health president Mike Geeslin said they'll support their members transition to another plan.
"Regardless of what the decision is, either with the Central Health Board, the Sendero Board, or this court right here, we would make certain through any transition period that those members understand what their options are and we'd make it as smooth for them as we possibly can," Geeslin said.
Geeslin said the special public hearing will be held later this week.