Texas — The Least ‘Pro-Life’ State In The Union?

Texas — The Least ‘Pro-Life’ State In The Union?

Republicans couldn’t contain their LOLs over the anemically low private insurance enrollment numbers for the first month of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The joke formula was simple: ___________ is more popular than Obamacare.

Because when people can’t get insurance, it’s funny.

The master of the form was Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX), better known to our readers as a member of Congress who might not be able to pass a firearms background check.


You know what’s also a lot more popular than Obamacare? Not having health insurance in Texas.

For every one person who enrolled in an ACA exchange plan, 58 Texans lack insurance. A quarter of the state’s population, 6,234,900 people, are uninsured. To put this in context, for Obamacare to be a success, about seven million people need to enroll by March.

To get a sense of how dire the health care situation is for those in the Lone Star State without heath care coverage, read “Texas’ Other Death Penalty: A Galveston medical student describes life and death in the so-called safety net” by Rachel Pearson.

The MD/PhD student breaks down the biggest myth that the right uses to rebut concerns for the uninsured: that they can get the care they need in emergency rooms:

Ted Cruz has argued that it is “much cheaper to provide emergency care than it is to expand Medicaid,” and Rick Perry has claimed that Texans prefer the ER system. The myth is based on a 1986 federal law called the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), which states that hospitals with emergency rooms have to accept and stabilize patients who are in labor or who have an acute medical condition that threatens life or limb. That word “stabilize” is key: Hospital ERs don’t have to treat you. They just have to patch you up to the point where you’re not actively dying. Also, hospitals charge for ER care, and usually send patients to collections when they cannot pay.

This kind of care is no use to those with chronic ailments like cancer, heart disease or diabetes — aka the leading causes of death in America.

For every one person who signed up in an ACA exchange in October, about 10 Texans are being denied subsidized heath insurance because Governor Rick Perry (R-TX) rejected Medicaid expansion.

“Perry’s refusal is catastrophic health policy,” Pearson writes. “For patients, it means that seeking medical care will still require risking bankruptcy, and may lead nowhere. For doctors, the message was not only that our patients’ lives don’t matter, but also that medicine—our old profession, so full of people who genuinely want to help others—will continue to be part of the economic machine that entrenches poverty.”

She points out that Howard Brody, director of the Institute for the Medical Humanities, projects that 9,000 Texans will die each year as a result of Republican refusal to expand Medicaid.

“However, because dying patients are often too sick, exhausted and wracked with pain to protest,  University of Texas Medical Branch and states like Texas aren’t forced to reckon with the consequences of their policy decisions,” Pearson writes.

Texas prides itself on its lax regulations for business and “pro-life” mentality that is closing several abortion providers across the state, which will inevitably lead to more uninsured Texans. But Republicans are fine with needless regulations on voting, and electing two governors in a row who have set the modern record for executions.

There’s a fundamental lack of respect for life that comes from denying people the basic heath care they need to function in society. And Democrats are finally starting to seize on this point.

“I am pro-life,” Wendy Davis told a University of Texas at Brownsville crowd on Tuesday. “I care about the life of every child: every child that goes to bed hungry, every child that goes to bed without a proper education, every child that goes to bed without being able to be a part of the Texas dream, every woman and man who worry about their children’s future and their ability to provide for that future. I care about life and I have a record of fighting for people above all else.”

If that’s the definition of “pro-life,” let’s look at Texas. It ranks 49th in per-pupil education spending, 8th in poverty and leads the nation in the percentage of its population that’s uninsured. If it’s not the least “pro-life” state in the nation, it’s close.

Photo: The Texas Tribune via Flickr.com

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