The past few weeks have been eventful for watchers of the Texas GOP. Dan Patrick and Greg Abbott have worked themselves into a tizzy over transgender kinds being allowed to use the bathroom, and a slew of Republican agency heads have been paying employees who no longer work there — yep, the Texas Republican crazy train has been powering forward at full steam ahead.
These Republicans have made Texas government into a joke, and while it’s fun to laugh, their actions have serious consequences. New CDC data released this week was a sobering reminder of how bad Republicans have made the situation in Texas. According to the CDC, early estimates of health insurance coverage rates from their annual National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) have found that in 2015, only 9.1% of people were uninsured, a record low. The number of uninsured Americans fell by over 7 million from 2014 to 2015. This drop is due in large part to the Affordable Care Act, whose provisions have expanded access to health insurance for young adults, low-income adults, and many more.
In typical 2016 fashion, Obamacare’s record-breaking success has been reported on with a large photo of Donald Trump, with the focus of the story on how Trump plans to repeal the law. But instead of talking about Trump, let’s talk about Texas.
Texas, as you may remember, is still home to the highest uninsured rate in the nation. Rick Perry, and now Greg Abbott have refused to cooperate with the Obama administration at every turn, most notably in their continued resistance to adopting Medicaid expansion, which could have insured over 1 million Texans. While the national uninsured rate has finally dropped into single digits, at just over 9%, Texas’s uninsured rate is more than twice that — we’re the only state that still has an uninsured rate over 20%.
And that’s not all. The NHIS data reports some stark disparities in coverage rates, especially for those living in poverty. For example, the CDC found that poor Americans had an uninsured rate about 18 percentage points higher than non-poor adults. Previous data has shown that in Texas, the difference in coverage rates between high and low-income households is higher than the national average — in fact, we have the largest different in coverage rates between rich and poor in the country.
The news isn’t all bad. According to the CDC, Texas did see its uninsured rate fall from 2014 by a statistically significant amount. But that drop is no thanks to our Republican elected officials, who seem to prefer getting indicted or putting on a show about non-issues like trans kids in bathrooms to actually enacting policies that help the people they’re supposed to represent.