Texas on Wrong Side of Health Care Divide

Texans, like others in the South, are a proud people. We are proud of our regional and state history, our businesses, and, of course, our football teams. Unfortunately, when it comes to health care, we have a great deal of work to do.

A recent report by The Commonwealth Fund revealed just how much. In the most recent scoring of states on health care, Southern states were found to be markedly lacking in measures relating to health care access, quality, and costs.

Texas ranked 46th, with one of the lowest scores in the country. We are in the second category of what The Commonwealth Fund has referred to as the two “health care Americas,” with health care equivalent to that found in some developing countries.

One telling indicator of this geographic divide is that poorly performing regions of the South tend to have the highest numbers of uninsured people. The ACA offered an opportunity to address this problem by allowing states the opportunity to expand Medicaid. However, Texas, along with many other Southern states, failed to pass Medicaid expansion legislation.

By failing to adopt Medicaid expansion, Texas not only missed out on a chance to provide more people access to quality, affordable health care coverage, but also failed to alleviate the uncompensated care burden faced by hospitals and taxpayers alike. In addition, Texans and other residents of states that did not expand coverage will still be paying the same amount of federal taxes under the Affordable Care Act as states that opted for Medicaid expansion; we simply won’t see the results and benefits that those states see.

The good news is that it is not too late to fix our mistakes. Texas legislators have the ability to reverse their decision and choose to expand health care coverage for Texans. It is our responsibility to set an example among states and help mend the geographic divide for those lacking health care within our country.

Written by: Hannah Guernsey, Children’s Defense Fund – Texas