A growing body of evidence shows widespread support for expanding health care coverage for Texans, one of the Texas Medical Association’s biggest priorities.
The latest news: 69% of Texans say the state should expand Medicaid to provide health insurance to low-income people who are uninsured, up from 64% in a similar 2019 poll, according to the Episcopal Health Foundation (EHF). That support came despite the fact that only 43% knew that Texas is one of just 12 states that have not expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, EHF said.
Also, 59% of Texans say state government is not doing enough to make sure low-income adults get the health care they need, according to the nonprofit organization, which focuses on improving health in Texas.
The EHF survey matches the results of a January 2021 poll by the Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston, which also showed that 69% of Texans support Medicaid expansion.
TMA is asking the Texas Legislature this session to support a multifaceted strategy that will provide comprehensive coverage to uninsured and underinsured Texans, a population whose rolls have swelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its economic effects.
Texas is No. 1 in the U.S. in the number of uninsured. More than 5.2 million Texans lack health insurance, representing 20% of the state’s population. And that was before the pandemic struck and more than a million Texans lost their jobs and insurance coverage.
“The number of Texans who lack health care coverage is increasing,” TMA President Diana L. Fite, MD, said earlier this month. “As an organization dedicated to improving the health of all Texans, these numbers greatly alarm and trouble us.”
Expanding Medicaid would put a sizable dent in Texas’ uninsured population, adding about 1 million people to the ranks of the insured, according to a September 2020 EHF study. That study also found that Texas could achieve a net savings of $110 million over the next biennium by providing meaningful coverage to the uninsured.
Under federal law, Texas could use Medicaid dollars to design its own coverage initiative. States like Arkansas, Indiana and Ohio already have used that approach, and TMA favors it for Texas.
Physicians can take advantage of several opportunities to get involved in order to influence health insurance legislation: