State Report: Texas

December 1, 2009

Commonwealth Fund State Performance Ranking (2009): 48

Texas has the highest uninsured population in the country, according to a Gallup poll released in August, with more than one-fourth (26.9%) of adults in the state lacking coverage. While Texas Republicans have frequently based the state's insurance record on the high number of undocumented immigrants, numerous studies, including ones by the Texas Department of Insurance, indicate that roughly 80% of those the Gallup organization or the Census Bureau would count as uninsured are actually U.S. citizens.

Blogger Eva DeLuna, a budget analyst at the Center for Public Policy Priorities (CPPP), an Austin-based think tank, says even taking out all the immigrants-legal and illegal-the state would still have the highest uninsured rate in the country.

A better explanation for the Texas data might be found in the state's healthcare policies and labor statistics. For example, the CPPP reports that compared with other states, fewer Texans are covered by public programs.

INCREASE IN HIV

Officials at Health Horizons, an organization that provides HIV testing and services, saw more East Texans test positive during the first seven months of 2009 than in all of 2008. In 2008, six individuals out of more than 1,000 tested, were positive for HIV. In January through July 2009, eight people out of more than 800 tested positive. Most of those who tested positive were African-American men.

ALZHEIMER'S AMONG HISPANICS

The Texas Alzheimer's Research Consortium has launched a new effort to study Alzheimer's disease among Hispanics, who are underrepresented nationally in Alzheimer's research. The consortium consists of five universities and has created a bio-bank of clinical, psychological and lab data on 800 research participants. Hispanics have high rates of diabetes and heart disease, both of which have recently been linked to the onset of Alzheimer's.

CANCER RESEARCH GRANTS

The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) in October said it received 881 applications in response to its first call for cancer research funding. The requests for funding total approximately $1.25 billion, roughly six times more money than will be available in the first year. CPRIT expects to announce its first funding awards early next year. CPRIT was created as the result of a constitutional amendment approved by Texas voters in 2007. The amendment directed the state to establish CPRIT and issue $3 billion in general obligation bonds over 10 years.

MHE Sources: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services; Urban Institute; Kaiser Family Foundation; U.S. Census Bureau; The Commonwealth Fund; National Center for Health Statistics; Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; Healthcare for America Now.