A PROGRESSIVE VOICE FROM THE LLANO ESTACADO

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Number Of Uninsured Growing In Texas

One of the primary goals of Obamacare was to cover most Americans with health insurance. At the time it was passed and signed into law, Texas was leading the nation in the number of citizens without any kind of health insurance. The figure stood at about 27% back then. That's more than one out of four Texans without insurance, and the situation has not improved since then. In fact, it has gotten significantly worse.

That's the conclusion of a recently released Gallup Poll (conducted between January 1st and December 31st of 353,564 random nationwide adults -- with a margin of error of only 1 point). The Texas sample size was large enough to give it a margin of error of 1 point also.

The poll showed that the percentage of uninsured persons in Texas has now grown to 28.8%. That separates Texas even further from the rest of the nation (with Louisiana being the state with the second largest percentage of uninsured at 24.0% -- nearly a five percent difference). Using the 2012 census figures for the state's estimated population (26,059,203), that means there are now approximately 7,505,050 uninsured Texans. That is a shameful number (more than the total individual population of 38 states).

Not all of these uninsured Texans are poor, and when Obamacare is fully implemented a portion of that more than 7 1/2 million will get federal help to buy private insurance. But a significant number are poor. And the only way they can be covered with insurance is if Texas expands its Medicaid program (which would be fully paid for by the federal government the first few years, and after that the feds would pay 90%). That's a pretty good deal, especially considering Texas is initially being offered $100 billion (which is more than it would cost to expand the Medicaid program).

But Texas has a right-wing teabagger as governor, and he wants to please the Republican base so he can run for president in 2016 -- so he is refusing to expand the state's Medicaid program. Texas hospitals, businesses, and a clear majority of voters want Medicaid expanded, and they have been putting pressure on the governor and the Republican-controlled legislature to change their minds and accept Obamacare's Medicaid expansion.

But the legislators are afraid they will anger their teabagger base if they do, and find themselves with an ultra-right-wing opponent in the next GOP primary -- and the governor is afraid of the same thing (both statewide when he runs for re-election in 2014, and nationwide when he runs for president in 2016). All of them consider their own primary survival more important than Texans without health insurance (many of which die each year because of that lack of insurance).

This is a shameful situation, and it's only getting worse. Texans will continue to die for lack of health insurance (which keeps them from getting preventive care), and every one of those deaths should be laid at the door of the Texas Republican Party. They could stop it, but they simply don't care.

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