“It’s not just because we have the highest number of kids in the country,” said Anne Dunkelberg, a Texas health policy expert at the Center for Public Policy Priorities. “We are at a league of our own at this point.”
The study compared 2015 rates of uninsured children to 2013 numbers— a before-and-after look at how the Affordable Care Act's largest and final provisions, rolled out in January 2014, impacted health coverage. Texas saw a 3 percent increase in insured children since ACA, also known as Obamacare, went into place. While Dunkelberg said it’s fair to call this a success, the state is still far behind others with equal—or a larger—number of kids.
California, for example, has some 9 million residents under 18 years old. Only 3 percent of the state’s children are uninsured. Nearly 10 percent of Texas’ 7 million kids live without health insurance.
These numbers are directly linked to how each state’s legislatures reacted to the 2014 health care law, according to Dunkelberg.
“We are shooting ourselves in the foot out of an ideological response to the ACA,” she said.
Texas, which has sued the Obama Administration for its “job-killing” health law, has refused to sync state and federal health policies, doing everything it can to make access to federal health care burdensome. The state is also one of the 19 that has refused to expand Medicaid, a program that could insure 1 million additional Texans and pull in an additional $6 billion in annual funding.
California, by contrast, embraced Obamacare and expanded its Medicaid coverage, even going so far as offering healthcare to undocumented immigrant residents.
The new report’s findings are yet another example of how poorly Texas treats some of its youngest, most vulnerable residents. Earlier this month, the state’s Child Protective Services released data showing that nearly 1,000 of Texas’ foster children have been, essentially, left to fend for themselves in homes where their health—and lives— are at risk. This landed around the same time the lawmakers found out that thousands of disabled children have been booted from special education courses to meet an arbitrary state target.
Meanwhile, Bexar County District Attorney Nico LaHood still believes vaccines cause autism in children.
*Correction 2:00pm: The original version of this story incorrectly stated that one in five Texas children are uninsured. It's been replaced with the correct statistic–that one in five uninsured U.S. children live in Texas.