Twenty percent of the total number of uninsured children in the U.S. live in Texas, but only 10% of the nation’s children reside here. Texas’ rate of uninsured children has grown to 8.3% in recent years, double the nation’s average. The Austin American-Statesman showcased this problem in an editorial highlighting Texas’ failure to insure children. Currently, Texas ranks second in the rate of uninsured children in the nation.
Despite our prosperous economy, thousands of Texas parents are left terrified every day, worrying about how they will access basic healthcare needs for their children. Children have a right to adequate healthcare, from routine checkups that can identify, or even prevent, long term health and developmental concerns to more life-threatening issues. Children should be able to access medical care when needed without question, and Texas should protect children and advocate for their best interests. By not confronting our uninsured crisis, we are failing Texas families.
The number and rate of uninsured children is in part the product of the Trump administration’s insistence on rolling back funding to healthcare systems and outreach programs, including slashes to the Navigator program which helps Texas families identify potential discounts and enroll in the right healthcare plan. Likewise, the blatant attack on immigration under the Trump administration caused many immigrant families living here legally to unenroll in programs in fear of retaliation or deportation.
Additionally, Texas Republicans habitually ignore a clear remedy to the healthcare crisis we face – Medicaid expansion. Medicaid expansion in Texas could potentially insure roughly 1.1 million more Texans. This past session, Representative John Bucy filed a Democrat-backed amendment to expand Medicaid in Texas, leaving the federal government to cover 93% of the associated costs and leading to years of State savings. GOP state legislators once again rejected attempts to expand Medicaid.
Beyond Medicaid expansion, Rep. Phillip Cortez filed HB 342 to extend child Medicaid’s continuous eligibility to 12 months to align with Texas CHIP. As we move forward into the new year, House Democrats will continue to prioritize our children’s health and will work to expand the access and ease of healthcare.