The Paris News reported on Monday, April 22 that “the Texas rate of uninsured children was the highest in the country in 2017 at 10.7% … more than twice the national child uninsured rate of 5%.” An estimated 835,000 Texas children went without health insurance in 2017, an increase of more than 10 percent from 2016.
The proposed 2020-2021 Texas state budget seeks to cut $900 million from the Health and Human Services Commission, the department that manages Medicaid coverage. So our legislators want to decrease access to health care for our poorest children even while Texas has the highest rate of uninsured children in the nation.
Quite a few people I care about depend on medical coverage provided by Medicaid or the CHIP program; probably this is true for you as well.
Millions of our Texas neighbors count on a variety of social safety nets just to make ends meet. Some of these supports are charitable, offered by communities like ours: the Downtown Food Pantry, Meals on Wheels, Spirit of Giving, Kings Daughters, Boys and Girls Club, CitySquare Paris… I am ever so grateful for the leaders, volunteers and donors who faithfully provide compassionate assistance to our Lamar County neighbors.
Charitable organizations are a vital part of the network that supports every community, but they alone cannot provide the full range of services that are needed to keep families functioning in a pinch. Medicaid and CHIP offer crucial services to our neighbors right here in Lamar County, services that churches and nonprofits are not able to provide – especially for our children.
I realize those of us across the political spectrum have different opinions about Medicaid expansion in Texas. I am all for it (those are my tax dollars, after all, sent to D.C. Why then does our Legislature refuse to allow those dollars back into the Texas economy? It makes no sense to me. )
I do realize this issue can be approached from several different angles. But I also believe that most Texans – no matter our politics – want to provide healthy foundations for our children – ALL our children. Healthcare, education, safety: these are issues that ought to bring us together in good faith as we seek to have productive conversations and develop collaborative cooperation.
We need broad based ‘both-and’ approaches to our social safety nets: both charitable and governmental. We need to be both donating to private charitable efforts and pooling our tax dollars to help care for our Texas neighbors – especially our children.
I urge you to consider carefully the issue of Medicaid expansion in Texas (or to re-consider if you think you have made up your mind.) I urge you to contact your Texas representatives and ask them not to decrease Medicaid resources in the 2020-2021 State Budget. And I encourage you to join me in supporting East Texas Giving day on April 30.
Let’s pull together and not let partisan politics mess with our Texas children.
Charlotte wrote this guest column for The Paris News after it published an article from the Texas Tribune on April 22, 2019: “Texas removes 1,000s of children from Medicaid each month”