Tag Archives: medicaid expansion

Death Rate Soars Among Latinos in Harris County

And, yes, it is because of COVID-19.

Harris County Public Health District Deputy Director Gwen Sims said in 2020 the death rate among Hispanics jumped 46.6 percent from the previous year of which 22 percent of deaths were contributed to COVID-19.

County Commissioner Adrian Garcia said they must address disparities affecting this group and it starts with getting vaccinated.

Garcia said COVID-19 vaccine will save lives.

“It’s not like a hurricane where swift waters are taking someone and we we’re trying to figure out where’s the rope, where’s the ladder, who is the first responders to dive in and rescue a life,” Garcia said. “We can rescue lives today by those who are not vaccinated stepping forward.”

No doubt, the vaccination rate among Latinos in Harris County could be better, while Latinos also make up almost 30 percent of Harris County’s COVID-19 positivity these last few weeks. The weekly percentage of total residents of Harris County getting vaccinated has held steady at around 46% for Latinos. Almost half of vaccinations are going to residents age 12 to 29, according to the weekly average stats.

And Garcia brings up a good point that access to health care is a major issue in all of this as Latino deaths of all causes also rose 22%. Which means, if Latinos do not have access to take care of illnesses and comorbidities that are exacerbated by COVID-19, things will not improve.

I guess it’s a good time to remind Greg Abbott that expanding Medicaid will help in this regard. I guess we should remind voters, too, that Greg Abbott has done nothing but help worsen the death rate among all Texans.

Anyway, get vaccinated, mask up, and stay away from crowds and people outside of your circle.

A State Rep Working On Real Issues

With today’s news that Dan Patrick is more interested in potties and sending back billions in federal education dollars to DC, it’s time to remind folks that there are folks representing us in Austin that are actually serving their constituents.

Last weekend, I attended State Rep. Gene Wu’s (HD137) town hall. Having lived in the district for a few years, I had yet to attend one, but since this one would have much to do with moving toward a set of legislative priorities, I thought I’d better go.

Upon arrival, I found a pretty diverse crowd that looked just like Houston. “De todo un poco,” or, a little of everything. And Wu didn’t make the meeting all about him, though I wouldn’t blame him since he’s up for re-election. In fact, he showcased some local experts on issues, such as education, health care, and public safety.

H.D. Chambers, chief at Alief ISD, presented on the realities about public education in the area, and especially on the lawsuit filed by numerous Texas school districts regarding education finance. (The lawsuit was decided today by the Texas Supreme Court and, let’s just say, the kids, the people, and the schools lost). The lawsuit was mainly about having the courts decide how enough resources would be provided to meet expectations that we place on our schools. The Court decided that the state met minimum constitutional standards of funding.

Anyway, he reminded us that there are 5 million students in K-12, but that there are 3.5 million children age 0-3, who by 4 should be getting into Pre-K. Of course, Pre-K support from the state is non-existent. This poses a major threat to the future of Texas, which includes a startling statistic:  If a child cannot read by 3rd grade, there is a 35% chance that the child will dropout of school.

Freddy Warner from the Memorial Hermann system spoke regarding health care from a major system standpoint. He stated that health care and education are among the top funding priorities in the Texas legislature and that in the coming session, they may be crowding each other out. Considering Texas was just bailed out by the Obama administration regarding Medicaid, one would think that Medicaid expansion would be a priority. Warner stated that there is zero chance it would be addressed as health care doesn’t seem to be a priority for most in Austin. He did mention that Memorial Hermann does provide $1.4 billion in charity care.

A startling statistic he provided is that we shouldn’t be surprised if there is a budget shortfall in 2017. While the State Comptroller based a budget on $65 per barrel oil, we’re currently at $40 ($46 today) per barrel. It just doesn’t look good for our next budget.

Now, take Dan Patrick’s potty boycott of $10 billion of our federal money that we’ve paid into the system into consideration. Now, open a bottle of booze and start worrying.

Next up was Januari Leo of Legacy Health, which is a federally qualified health center. The majority of people seen by them are uninsured who cannot afford the emergency room or private clinics. They weren’t helped when Harris Health changed their qualification threshold, thus cutting 19,000 patients from their services.

With uncompensated care growing, and Obama bailing out Texas Medicaid, if a politician for state or local office (Republicans) promised you a cut in property taxes, it is not going to happen. Texas needs to pay its bills. How that is accomplished when we take losses in oil revenue, dismal tax collections and other budgetary nightmares into consideration, well, go ahead and open a second bottle of booze.

The public safety presentations by Assistant County Attorney Vinson and Lt. Conn from HPD centered on some of the things their agencies are working on. The County Attorney’s office is mostly working on ridding the district of nuisance businesses–massage parlors and after-hours clubs. They attract crime, drugs, etc. HPD’s Midwest division helps businesses develop surveys of the areas they serve as to type of crimes and how to protect themselves. They have programs to work at Lee HS with at-risk youth.

Overall, a very interesting meeting that has prepared me for the 2017 session. While State Rep. Wu will definitely have a list of priorities based on open communications with constituents, he’ll have to deal with some of the odd-ball and bigoted priorities being presented by Dan Patrick and his potty buddies.

Ultimately, elections matter. We have a run-off coming up and early voting begins on May 16. You best start practicing for November.

Thanks to Rep. Wu’s staff for putting on an informative meeting and for that open door.


Video: A New Medicaid Plan for Texas

Thanks to our friends at OneTexas for sending this over. If Republicans don’t want to listen to common sense Democrats, perhaps they’ll listen to some of their own who support Medicaid expansion.

Progress Texas: Who Supports Medicaid Expansion in Texas?

Thanks to our friends at Progress Texas for supplying this growing list.

Who Supports Medicaid Expansion in Texas?
The list below is compiled and regularly updated by Progress Texas,
in consultation with Texas Well & Healthy.
www.progresstexas.org www.texaswellandhealthy.org
Chambers of Commerce (9) SOURCE
Arlington Chamber of Commerce http://bit.ly/UKpocC
Bryan/College Station Chamber of Commerce http://bit.ly/UQYlfQ
Dallas Chamber of Commerce http://bit.ly/XqFcxQ
El Paso Chamber of Commerce http://bit.ly/12USuKc
Fredericksburg Chamber of Commerce http://bit.ly/Zw0HDB
Greater Austin Hispanic Business
Chamber of Commerce
Oak Cliff Chamber of Commerce http://bit.ly/XPKt17
Rio Grande Valley Hispanic Chamber http://bit.ly/15dkUgP
San Antonio Chamber of Commerce http://bit.ly/ZlVpXh
City & County Government (6) SOURCE
Bexar County Commissioners’ Court http://bit.ly/ZBvlaQ
Dallas County Commissioners’ Court http://bit.ly/YfGQ8C
El Paso County Commissioners’ Court http://bit.ly/13tpXqs
Hidalgo County Commissioners’ Court http://bit.ly/YymYcW
Travis County Commissioners’ Court http://bit.ly/VzXoYq
Austin City Council http://bit.ly/YGnfN3
Waco City Council http://bit.ly/UOZxAk
Organizations (40) SOURCE
Austin Health Care for All Texas http://bit.ly/15dkUgP
Austin Interfaith http://bit.ly/WefwnJ
City Square http://bit.ly/15dkUgP
Gateway to Care http://bit.ly/15dkUgP
Greater Houston One Voice http://bit.ly/Xp2Wp2
Epiphany Community Health Outreach Services http://bit.ly/15dkUgP
Harris County Healthcare Alliance http://bit.ly/XEr8CM
Harris Health System http://bit.ly/13qSZHv
Hope Family Health Center http://bit.ly/15dkUgP
Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) http://bit.ly/WXCNgb
Legacy Community Health Services http://bit.ly/15dkUgP
Memorial Hermann http://bit.ly/W7nnc6
Mental Health America of Texas http://bit.ly/YqBh3b
National Association of Social Workers (TX) http://bit.ly/15dkUgP
One Voice Central Texas http://bit.ly/UYJakI
The Perryman Group http://bit.ly/XtgOf2
Progress Texas www.ProgressTexas.org
Proyecto Azteca http://bit.ly/15dkUgP
Rio Grande Valley Equal Voice Network http://bit.ly/XuU7do
Teaching Hospitals of Texas http://bit.ly/XtnHwT
Texas Well & Healthy www.texaswellandhealthy.org
ADAPT of Texas* http://adaptoftexas.org/
Alamo Breast Cancer Foundation* http://www.alamobreastcancer.org/
Behavioral Health Alliance of Texas* http://bha-texas.org/
Center for Public Policy Priorities* http://www.cppp.org
Children’s Defense Fund – Texas* http://www.cdftexas.org/
Consumers Union, SW Regional Office* http://www.consumersunion.org/
Dallas Area Interfaith* http://www.dallasareainterfaith.com
Disability Rights Texas* http://www.disabilityrightstx.org
Easter Seals Central Texas* http://centraltx.easterseals.com
La Fe Policy Research and Education Center* http://www.lafepolicycenter.org
La Union del Pueblo Entero (LUPE)* http://www.lupenet.org
Methodist Healthcare Ministries* http://www.mhm.org
National MS Society – Lone Star* http://www.nationalmssociety.org/txh/home
Texans Care for Children* http://texanscareforchildren.org/
Texas AFL-CIO* http://www.texasaflcio.org
Texas Impact* http://texasimpact.org/
Texas Organizing Project* http://www.organizetexas.org
Texas Pediatric Society* https://txpeds.org
Texas Political Interest Research Group* http://www.texpirg.org
*Cover Texas Now is a coalition of consumer and Faith-based organizations that, as part of
their work to expand health care coverage in Texas, has endorsed Medicaid expansion.
Cover Texas Now Legislative Agenda http://bit.ly/WXyd1c
Limited/Qualified Support (3) Source
Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce http://bit.ly/15dkUgP
Texas Medical Association http://bit.ly/WeD0id
Texas Hospital Association http://bit.ly/158tn4P

Farrar Responds to Judge Emmett’s Support of Medicaid Expansion


click to enlarge






It’s Time for Texas to Support Medicaid Expansion

Texas Republican leaders have been quite vocal in opposing any expansion of Medicaid. Much talk from Republicans as a means of attempting to soften on Latinos has centered on immigration, but health care is as much a Latino issue as immigration reform; if anything, it is quite vital to the community.

According to the Texas Medical Association, there are 6.3 million uninsured Texans, including 1.2 million children. Of those, groups with a high likelihood of being uninsured are:  Poverty-stricken families; Hispanics; and young adults. And almost 40% of Hispanics live uninsured. And non-citizens have an even higher likelihood of being uninsured; in fact, 30% of the uninsured in Texas are non-citizens.

When one looks at cities around the state, the numbers become quite real:  Houston – 30%; Laredo – 36%; Dallas – 33%; McAllen – 32%; El Paso – 28%, the list goes on. Just 35 counties of the 254 in Texas account for 80% of the uninsured.

So, why are Texas Republicans against the uninsured? Expanding Medicaid will help over a million uninsured Texans. Billions of Federal dollars will be returned to Texas within a few years, and billions more in a ten-year period. Federal dollars means jobs–for doctors, nurses, other medical staff, and businesses who work in the field.

Republican Governors in New Mexico, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, and Michigan now support expanding Medicaid. They have recognized the crisis, as well as the benefits of receiving Federal dollars that their taxpayers have invested. Public opinion and the opinion of Texas businesses are on the side of Medicaid expansion. It’s just the right thing to do to ensure more Texans have access to medical care, rather than only emergency room care that ends up being more costly and a less efficient use of resources.

One way or another, the taxpayers will foot the bill while Texas plays catch-up at becoming a healthier state. But when a responsible approach is available through Medicaid, then Texas should do the responsible thing.

My friends at Progress Texas are currently promoting an online petition in support of the Medicaid expansion. I’m asking you to sign the petition and support Texas doing the right thing.

DosCentavos will be doing more writing on health care and elder care in Texas. When it comes to health care, Texas is in crisis mode and Texans must come together, put politics aside, and do what is right. And when it comes to Elder Care, there’s no doubt that the lives of many of our viejitos and viejitas are at stake with decisions being made in Austin and Washington, D.C.

Sign the petition. Please.

Texans may also participate in Texas Medicaid Matters! Advocacy Day at the State Capitol on March 5, 2013. (Thanks to our friends at Texas Well and Healthy).

We are mobilizing to:

1)     Protect Medicaid for children and other vulnerable Texans.

2)     Extend Medicaid to low-income adults who qualify for it under the Affordable Care Act.

Get a schedule of events in PDF format here. DosCentavos will be blogging more about this advocacy day, too.