Tuesday, August 28, 2007

What about SCHIP? How many poor in Texas?


More than the official poverty rate indicates. A good rule of thumb is to double the official poverty level income

From the Center For Public Policy Priorities and The Baptist General Convention of Texas: Texas Poverty 101.
The estimated cost of housing, food, child care, transportation, health care, other necessities such as clothing, and taxes for two adults and one child in Houston is $2,821 per month (more than $16 per hour in combined household wages), or $33,852 per year. This is more than twice the official poverty level in 2005, at $16,090 annually for a family of three. CPPP and EPI’s approach is supported by poverty experts, including the National Research Council, which has recommended a similar approach to replace the official federal poverty measure.

SO, HOW MANY TEXANS ARE OFFICIALLY POOR?

Poverty in Texas is more pronounced than in the nation as a whole. The poor are concentrated in the state’s largest cities and in the Texas-Mexico border region. Poverty rates are also much higher for the state’s large and growing Latino population and for African-American Texans.

Child poverty—particularly among young children—is significantly higher in Texas than in the nation as a whole.

HOW MANY TEXANS ARE WORKING BUT REMAIN POOR?

Most poor families with children in Texas are working families. Of the 558,000 families with children below poverty in 2002, 70 percent—393,000—were headed by a worker.

Individuals in Poverty, 2002-04
(3-year average)
Texas U.S.
Poverty rate 16.4% 12.4%
Total in poverty 3.6 million 35.8 million
This relates to the SCHIP debate with conservatives and Bush objecting to "socialized medicine" for children of working families. The eligibility for Texas state child health coverage is twice the official poverty rate unless the money runs out first and the Republicans stick some other reasons to deny coverage in. As a state health program it is not nearly as simple as going to your doctor. Count on hours, much paperwork and long lines to prove your eligibility unless some special outreach is taking place.

There are nine million USA children uninsured. Bush has infamously said to them "After all, you just go to an emergency room."

I am sure you want already overcrowded emergency rooms (ER visits up 25% in ten years while the number of ERs down 25%), the most expensive health care in the world, used for emergency care for kids not getting regular care. The cost of an emergency visit is 3-4 times more expensive than a cost of a regular office visit. This also raises your local property tax rates and forces many families into bankruptcy because of health costs. You don't get a free ride in emergency rooms just because you don't have insurance. In fact, uninsured rates are more than triple what insured people pay.

The costs of uninsured persons using the emergency room are significant: 6.2% of all hospital bills were incurred due to uninsured patients who could not pay their own bills. Like Medicare and Medicaid, 80-85% of this amount is paid for by the government in one form or another. Another portion is spread as higher costs for all hospital care, treatment and services. ER's already being used as primary care facilities instead of only for emergencies has created the GOMER problem (doc) - "get out of my emergency room." Increasingly overcrowded ER's with problems that should be treated elsewhere with many unable to pay. Cuts in Medicaid/care funding have only exacerbated this problem, with recipients of these benefits three times as likely to seek emergency department care than those with private insurance.

Health care is the most serious of the many crises Bush and the Republicans have made worse and are unable to face or provide solutions.

1 comment:

Congressional Black Caucus said...

Congress has written a bitter prescription to American children that should never be filled.

Congress has abandoned its promise to afford every citizen life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. When the wealthiest nation prioritizes excessive spending on a morally and fiscally bankrupt war in Iraq while the neediest children go without health insurance, we have forfeited our commitment to America.

According to a recent CBS News poll, 81% of Americans endorse this bipartisan legislation that would have preserved coverage for six million children currently covered by CHIP, extended coverage to nearly four million uninsured children, as well as ensured dental coverage and mental health parity. This fully funded bill would have allocated $100 million in grants for new outreach activities to states, local governments, schools, community-based organizations, and safety-net providers.

“The Bible teaches us that a new day will dawn when the ‘last will become first and the first will be last.’ Today, Congress and President Bush have banished our children and the underserved to the back of the line. We can and must do better.

The Congressional Black Caucus, 43 Members from 21 states, representing 40 million Americans, is resolute in our position to ensure health care for 10 million children and to protect the overall health and wellness of our most vulnerable citizens.