Blog by W. Stephen Love, President/CEO of the DFW Hospital Council
John F. Kennedy once said, “Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future.”
You might be surprised to learn that one in nine children in the U.S. live in Texas, a statistic that is most certainly a blessing. The Georgetown University Health Policy Institute’s Center for Children and Families released a report in October regarding our U.S. children. A key finding was the number of uninsured children has increased by more than 400,000 since 2016, bringing the overall total to more than four million. Sharp increases were noted in six states including Texas.
I was shocked to see 50 percent of the nation’s uninsured children reside in Texas, Florida, California, Georgia, Arizona and Ohio, with Texas leading this pack with a tally of 21.5 percent. There are no signs this negative trend will improve.
Texas leads the nation in uninsured residents with 17.7 percent, or five million people. The Texas Health and Human Services Commission reported that in 2016, Texas hospitals delivered a staggering $6.8 billion in uncompensated care. Studies show most uninsured Texas adults are low-income workers, with 40 percent living below the poverty line. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, over half of our residents reported being uninsured for five years or longer. These are not statistics to be proud of. Some industry experts estimate Medicaid expansion in Texas would bring $100 billion of federal funding to our state over the next decade.
We need immediate strategies for our Medicaid 1115 Waiver. Recent proposals are diligent efforts, but they only impact current Medicaid recipients, while leaving out many DSRIP beneficiaries who did not qualify for traditional Medicaid. We need to seriously consider Medicaid expansion in Texas for the well-being of the most vulnerable in our society.
We have good, thoughtful people in our state. It’s time we have stakeholders, especially our dedicated legislative leaders, sit down and solve this growing uninsured dilemma. Preconceived notions are not necessary. Just a guiding principle of how we must work collaboratively to solve this chronic Texas problem affecting many of our state’s children, our most valuable resource and best hope for the future.
I will be glad to convene a meeting here in our conference room to begin this process. Let’s work together to solve this problem!