Texas Health Scare: The Silent Majority

In watching the historic litigation over Health Care this week, many are left to wonder what the Supreme Court’s ruling will be. Three days of vigorous discussions that mostly centered on the Individual Mandate. To be certain there is much more debate ahead before the landmark ruling (full audio and transcript here via NPR).

But there is one constant in the HealthCare battle that no one is talking about… the millions of people in our country that remain uninsured. They can’t go to the Doctor, the Dentist, or anywhere to get regular check-ups and wellness visits, but instead have to wait until a crisis point occurs and be admitted to the ER. No where else is this a greater problem than in the state of Texas, with the nation’s highest percentage of uninsured people… roughly 6.3 million residents.

It should come as no surprise that Texas, having the highest percentage of the uninsured, also has some of the nation’s most dire health care crises. Houston’s Memorial Hermann was named the “Busiest Trauma Center in the US” by ABC in 2009. Sadly since then the situation hasn’t gotten much better. Houston-area ERs are still inundated by an ever-growing number of uninsured patients who have nowhere else to turn. Texas isn’t rushing to help them however… the Governor and lawmakers in Austin continue to put their political principles over the needs of real Texans, and are playing political football with the Federal Government in its attempt to help our state.

One of the most recent stunts affects the Texas Women’s Health Program. Governor Perry and Austin politicians have just recently decided to remove funding from the program if it goes to Planned Parenthood (eventhough this has never been a problem in the past). According to the State Comptroller’s Office, Texas Healthcare costs are skyrocketing faster than any time in history. Between 2005 and 2009, state Healthcare expenditures have grown by 36%. Factors cited for this growth include costs that continue to be driven by an unbridled private market, an increase of Emergency Room use across all sectors (but especially the uninsured and MediCaid patients), and a growing number of specialty tests per patient. It’s clear that Governor Perry doesn’t have the money or the time to play with ANY Healthcare funding. If we turn down funds for TWHP, where do we expect them to come from?

More of the same is at play with the Affordable Care Act. Originally a Conservative idea, the GOP has become so obsessed with defeating President Obama that they have run away from their own previous positions and forced the Supreme Court to argue the semantics of the law. Even Liberals will tell you that “Obamacare” is far from perfect, but it is much better than doing nothing, and waiting until costs and emergencies are far beyond our control. We’ll soon have longer wait times, for more severe issues.

So the question remains… Who is going to drop the politics and stand up for the betterment of all Texans?? Apparently we can’t expect our Governor or the Legislature to do so. Our fate lies only among those 9 justices in the Supreme Court. And even then, Perry will probably find a way to shoot us in the foot for the sake of politics. Great… another ER visit!!

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