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Perch at the top of the list unsettling

September 27, 2018

Latest U.S. Census Bureau data indicates Texas has the highest number of uninsured residents in the country and is also the state with the highest percentage of its population lacking medical insurance.

It has been disheartening to watch the great strides that had been made in reducing the number of uninsured through the Affordable Care Act earlier in the decade erode. The backslide is only going to continue if Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is successful in his efforts in the courts to overturn the ACA in its entirety. Most recently he has focused his efforts on the ACA protections for Americans with pre-exisiting conditions.

With 4.8 million uninsured residents, Texas still has 931,000 fewer uninsured than in 2013, but that margin deserves to be much higher. In 2013, Texas had 5.7 million uninsured residents and with the aid of the ACA, that number started dropping. The uninsured numbered 5 million in 2014, 4.6 million in 2015 and 4.5 million in 2016. The change in presidents reversed that trend.

Some may argue that a 0.7 percent increase in uninsured between 2016 and 2017 is marginal, but it is a statistically significant change. It means there are at least 300,000 more people with no insurance.

The uninsured have few options. Many will simply present themselves at the emergency room, which is among the most expensive medical care in the country — the cost often underwritten by the taxpayers and the insured (in the form of higher premiums).

Texas should aspire to rank first in states with insured residents, and our attorney general should help make that happen.

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