Texas earned a dubious distinction in a recent survey of health costs, access, and outcomes. Over the course of her tenure in the Legislature, State Representative Linda Koop (R-Dallas) has been a consistent force and contributor to those outcomes.
According to a recent study by WalletHub, using data from a variety of government, academic, and private healthcare sources, Texas ranked dead last, 51 out of 51 states and the District of Columbia, in the percentage of adults with health insurance. It ranked 49 in the percentage of children up to age 17 with health insurance (ahead of only Alaska and Nevada). WalletHub ranked Texas 38th in overall healthcare.
How bad is the uninsured problem in Texas? The new Census Bureau Report shows in 2017, more than 4.8 million Texans lacked health insurance. Texas was one of only two states that “had an uninsurance rate of 14. percent or more.”
The Census Bureau reported 17.3 percent of the state’s residents did not have health insurance in 2017, which is nearly 2 times the rate of the national average. That’s more than four million of our fellow Texans. Koop’s district in Dallas County had some of the worst numbers, with more than 400,000 people (27.4 percent of the population) uninsured.
For Linda Koop, ensuring Texans are safe and healthy isn’t a top priority. During the 85th legislature, Koop voted against Amendment 118 to the budget, which would have expanded access to health insurance and lowered healthcare costs for those with insurance across the state. Her vote hurt her own constituents and people in every part of Texas.
As Texas’ population grows and ages, the healthcare sector of our economy will continue to grow. While Medicare covers seniors, expanding Medicaid would help working Texans whose employers do not provide health insurance. Independent studies show expanding Medicaid in Texas could bring over $100 billion in federal funding to the state, create as many as 300,000 jobs and provide insurance to more than a million uninsured Texans. It would galvanize the healthcare economy, and improve public health.
So the question is why Koop and her colleagues would stand in the way of expanding healthcare to more than a million Texas families. Part of the answer may be Koop has taken money from the insurance corporations who oppose efforts to reduce premiums or expand coverage outside the private market. Maybe it’s the politics or maybe Koop doesn’t care.
Regardless, Texans need to make it clear to their representatives they want better access and options for healthcare, and they want to Reform Austin.