||October 29, 2008
Dave Lemmon, Director of Communications
Bob Meissner, Deputy Director of Communications
Bryan Fisher, Press Secretary
Texas Tops Nation in Number of Uninsured Children
With More than One out of Five Children Uninsured in the State, Texas Has the Highest Rate of Uninsured Children in the Nation
Washington, D.C.—There are 1.4 million uninsured children in Texas—more than one out of five children in the state (20.5 percent)—according to a new report released today by Families USA, the national organization for health care consumers.
The report, based on new Census Bureau data, shows that the number of uninsured children continues to grow in the state. The most recent data are for the three-year period 2005-2007 and therefore do not reflect the worsening economic situation in 2008.
The Families USA report, titled “Left Behind: Texas’s Uninsured Children,” spotlights the following facts about uninsured children in the state:
- 1.4 million children are uninsured in Texas—more than one of out five, or 20.5 percent of Texas’s children. These numbers place Texas first in the nation for the number of uninsured children, and first nationally for the percentage of children in the state without health insurance.
- The number of uninsured children in Texas increased by nearly 33,400 between the three-year period 2003-2005 and the three-year period 2005-2007, and is likely to continue to grow due to the financial crisis.
- Texas’s uninsured children come from working families. In Texas, the vast majority of uninsured children (89.5 percent) come from families where at least one parent works, and nearly three-quarters of uninsured children—or 73.9 percent—live in households where at least one family member works full-time, year-round.
- Nearly two-thirds of Texas’s uninsured children, or 65.7 percent, come from low-income families (families with incomes below twice the poverty level, or $35,200 for a family of three in 2008) who are likely eligible for Medicaid or CHIP.
Last year, the Congress voted to reauthorize the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which would have expanded health coverage throughout the nation to approximately 4 million uninsured children. Although Congress passed the legislation with broad bipartisan support, the legislation failed when President Bush vetoed it.
“The children’s health legislation vetoed by the President would have provided much-needed relief to uninsured children in Texas and across the nation,” said Ron Pollack, Executive Director of Families USA. “Unfortunately, the minority of congressional members who voted with the President made it impossible to override the veto.”
The CHIP program is now scheduled to expire on March 31, 2009. As a result, the reauthorization of CHIP will be one of the earliest policy issues facing the next Congress and President.
In 2007 an estimated 710,700 children in Texas received their health coverage through CHIP.
“For the numerous children in Texas who count on CHIP as their health lifeline and for the 1.4 million uninsured children in the state, support for continuing and expanding CHIP is critically important,” said Pollack. “It will determine whether children get the preventive care they need so that they can remain healthy, learn in school, and become productive citizens.”
Due to the current economic downturn, Congress is also likely to consider providing higher federal matching funds to the states for the Medicaid program—the other key health safety net program for children from low-income families. Such a measure may be part of the next economic stimulus package debated in Congress, thereby enabling states to retain and expand health coverage as more families become uninsured.
“The provision of increased federal matching funds to the states for Medicaid is of growing importance,” said Pollack. “States need to expand health coverage at a time when their budgets are increasingly precarious, so increased federal help is essential.”
Families USA is the national organization for health care consumers. It is nonprofit and nonpartisan and advocates for high-quality, affordable health care for all Americans.
1201 New York Avenue NW, Suite 1100 · Washington, DC 20005
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