Texas lead the nation in a very unpleasant category...the increase in the number of children without health insurance, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
"Unfortunately, Texas had the largest increase in uninsured kids in 2017," Joan Alker with the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families told News Radio 1200 WOAI. "83,000 additional kids lost coverage in Texas."
She says several factors are behind the disturbing loss of insurance, which has left one child in ten in Texas without coverage, at a time when the state's economy is booming and more people are working than ever before.
She says the decision in late 2017 to drop the so called 'individual mandate' tax penalty for not buying insurance under the Affordable Care Act had a lot to do with the first drop in uninsured children in the state in ten years, but other factors are at play as well.
"In 2017, there was so much talk about coverage going away, with the attempt to repeal ACA," she said. "And there were cuts in funding, for advertising, for outreach and enrollment."
Alker says there were drops in insured children in every state, but no state saw the sharp increase in drops in coverage like Texas saw. There are now an estimated 3.9 million U.S. children without health coverage.
She says children who don't have health insurance are more likely to go to school sick, where they will infect other kids. She says there is also a direct proven correlation between children who have health insurance and who can receive medical care, and positive school outcomes.
"They have worse educational outcomes, and that is not good when these kids are the future of our economy."
She said the Texas Legislature next year could move to rectify this growing imbalance by expanding the Medicaid program, which provides health care benefits for low income people. Texas has joined other Republican-dominated states in declining to expand Medicare when the ACA was approved earlier this decade.