Texas Health Scare: What’s our alternative?

Now that the Supreme Court has upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (you know… Obamacare), states are slowly coming to the inevitable conclusion. It is the LAW. The clock is now ticking for states like Texas to begin implementation of these new provisions of health care.

But don’t be fooled, that particular clock was ticking in Texas a long time ago. As evidenced in a previous post, Obamacare or not, state healthcare costs have been on a meteoric rise between 2005 and 2009, skyrocketing 36% during just those 4 years. Even as the costs for the state continue to mount, the number of Texans without insurance continues to rise as well.

Here are some sobering facts from the Texas Medical Association

1 in 4 Texans are uninsured. That’s over over 6.2 million people as of 2010.

-These uninsured people have no but choice to seek the emergency room. As a result they drive up Healthcare costs for everyone else. The average cost to treat a minor ailment in the Doctors office? $56.21. In the emergency room? $193.92 That’s almost 4 times the expense as it would be going to the doctor for a similar ailment (much less waiting until it becomes WORSE). Guess who absorbs those costs? And Texans wonder why our healthcare costs are soaring.

Only 50% of working Texans have health insurance… 49th in the country. The common misconception here is that employers are supposed to offer some form of a health insurance plan. That wasn’t actually a law until the passage of the Affordable Care Act. As a right-to-work state with a plethora of low-wage jobs, Texas companies have very little incentive to offer health insurance. So contrary to popular belief, it’s not just those on welfare in Texas that are struggling to find health care. It’s many of the employed public too.

In the face of these staggerring statistics, Governor Perry, Attorney General Greg Abbott and the Republican-led Texas legislature have vowed to fight the Affordable Care Act tooth and nail. It’s quite an odd stance too, as many Texas Hospitals are in full support of the Medicaid Expansion. Here is a statement from Dan Stults, President of the Texas Hospital Association

“Texas hospitals recognize there are concerns with expanding the Medicaid population, but given the state’s high number of uninsured, all options for gaining insurance coverage must be closely considered. Under PPACA, a significant number of low income individuals could gain insurance without any cost to the state of Texas for several years. Without the Medicaid expansion, many will remain uninsured, shifting costs to the insured and increasing uncompensated care to health care providers,” said Dan Stultz, M.D., FACP, FACHE, THA president/chief executive officer.

“The law was never meant to fix all the problems facing the health care system,” Stultz said. “Texas hospitals look forward to a continued discussion on how to improve the effects of the law for patients, families and communities.”

So Texas hospitals are all for the expansion of Medicaid, the state funding gap for healthcare is increasing at an alarming rate, and our uninsured continue to tax our emergency rooms, and pass ever-ballooning costs to us Texans that are lucky enough to actually have insurance. But Perry and the boys don’t want any government help from “Obamacare”.

Only one question remains to the Governor. What is your alternative?? You continue to reject implementation of the new law, but how would you propose that Texas solve these problems? Are our good Texas companies going to have a change of heart and start insuring all of their workers? Maybe they’ll be nice enough to donate directly to the hospitals so the uninsured can get treated at the ER “for free”? Maybe all of our aging Baby-Boomers will get fed-up and move to Florida??

All Texans should be asking Governor Perry and state lawmakers these questions. If our state really does decide to opt-out we need a real plan in place, and it needs to get implemented now. Mr. Perry… Time’s up.

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