1.2 Million Texas Kids Without the Care Needed to Stay Healthy

By Jen Kastner
NewsWest 9

TEXAS- A little more the one million kids in Texas are going without the care they need to stay healthy, according to an annual report just released by the non-partisan Center for Public Policy Priorities.

The good news, however, is that the percentage of uninsured kids in the state is actually down. In 2009, 17% were uninsured. In 2006, 21% were uninsured.

In Midland, the low to no-income clinic group, Midland Community Health Services, says we see the problem here in our community, despite the economic boom.

CEO Michael Austin said, "We have an awful lot of people doing really well but there's still enclaves or pockets of poverty within the community."

Most kids in their clinics are using government-funded programs like CHIP and Medicaid.

"Texas, to its credit, has probably passed more legislation in the last 10 years to ensure access to kids health programs," Austin said.

Yet, there are still somewhere between 50 to 100 young patients seen each year in their clinics who do not have any coverage.

Medical Center Hospital in Odessa sees these types of patients all the time.

J.R. Edmiston is the Director of Patient Financial Services. He says, "A little more than 10%, close to 11% of the kids we see that are under 18 are uninsured when they walk into the hospital."

Midland Community Health Services says some of the uninsured kids they treat are undocumented immigrants. Others may have parents that are just struggling to get by.

"Some of these jobs either may not offer insurance or there's a very long waiting time before they can get their families on an insurance policy," Austin said.

The number of uninsured kids in the Basin may not be as high as the rest of the state but MCH says we're still not where we should be.

"I think 10% to 11% of kids being uninsured is still too high," Edmiston said.

For more information on Midland Community Health Services, visit midlandchs.org.