Pretty damn impressive, all things considered.
New numbers out show that 734,000 Texans bought health insurance through the federal marketplace from last October to April 19, 2014, a report released by Health and Human Services shows.
Prior to March 1, an anemic 295,000 people had signed up, but in the final stretch of the Affordable Care Act first-year sign-up, another 439,000 obtained private insurance through the exchange.
Health care advocates applauded the new sign-up numbers and said the results are impressive, especially in the face of strong opposition from virtually every state Republican leader.
“Texas has made more progress on affordable health insurance in the last six months than in the last decade,” said Stacey Pogue, a health care analyst at the left-leaning Center for Public Policy Priorities.
“We know that Texas could do much more,” she said. “Too many Texans are still one illness or one accident away from going bankrupt.”
Emphasis mine. Keep that in mind the next time you hear a Republican dead-ender talk about how horrible Obamacare is. After more than a decade in complete control of Texas government, they’ve not done a damn thing to try to solve this problem. Hell, in that time they’ve never even recognized it as a problem. Then the federal government – President Obama and the Democrats in Congress – stepped in and finally did something about it, and the Republican leadership in Texas resents it like crazy, because it so clearly points out their abject failure. The final enrollment surge, generated purely by tons of need for health insurance coverage, since the state did everything it could to impede signups, was impressive enough that even the TPPF’s designated hack had to admit is was remarkable. Just imagine what could have been if only Rick Perry and Greg Abbott and the rest of them gave a damn.
Some details from Texas Well and Healthy:
BACKGROUND ON HEALTH CARE COVERAGE NUMBERS
- Eight-four percent of Texans who signed up also received financial assistance, lowering their monthly costs.
- Thirty percent of Texans who selected insurance plans through the Marketplace were 18-34 years old.
- Approximately six million Texans were uninsured in 2012. With 25 percent of the state uninsured, Texas has the worst rate in the nation.
- About half of the state’s one million uninsured children and teens are eligible for Medicaid or CHIP.
- More than one million Texas adults are in the Coverage Gap. Their jobs do not provide insurance, but their income is not high enough to qualify for assistance in the Marketplace. The Texas legislature can provide insurance to Texans in the Coverage Gap by accepting federal health care funds.
More from the Chron:
For weeks, officials have said an estimated 8 million people nationwide signed up for coverage. Until Thursday, it was unclear that a little more than 9 percent of enrollees were Texans. Before the marketplace’s Oct. 1 launch, government officials projected about 625,000 Texans would sign up for coverage.
“I’m pleasantly surprised,” said Vivian Ho, James A. Baker III Institute health economics chair at Rice University. “I thought that anyone who wanted insurance would have signed up by Dec. 31.”
Although the state surpassed enrollment expectations, Ho said millions of Texans remain uninsured. About half of Texas’ estimated 6 million uninsured residents could have applied for marketplace coverage created by the 2010 Affordable Care Act.
“We’ve only made a slight dent in the number of uninsured in Texas,” Ho said. “We need more resources down here.”
No one from the offices of U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz or Gov. Rick Perry responded to requests for comment about the number of Texas enrollments. All three lawmakers oppose the health care law commonly known as Obamacare, and Cruz repeatedly has pushed for its repeal.
No comment from any of them? Not even a smart-aleck remark? Wimps.
Thursday’s report did not include Houston-area enrollment information. In April, the Associated Press reported more than 177,000 Houston residents signed up for health coverage, exceeding expectations and indicating a last-minute enrollment push just before the March 31 deadline might have helped Texas.
Texas Hospital Association officials said they were encouraged by the enrollment update but agreed with Ho that the state needs to do more to help its remaining uninsured residents. Texas has the nation’s highest rate of uninsured residents.
Perry has refused to expand Medicaid, which would extend health coverage to more than 1 million residents who earn too much to qualify for the program and too little to afford private health insurance.
“Our federal income tax dollars are going to other states because the state’s leadership said no to connecting low-wage working families with health insurance options,” hospital association president and CEO Ted Shaw said in a written statement. “Other states have proposed innovative private-market solutions to expand coverage using available federal funding, and Texas should follow their lead.”