Texas Health Care Is Worst in U.S., Study Says
A new federal report says Texas is dead last in the nation in the quality of health care.
The report was conducted by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, which is run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Home health care was the worst-performing category in Texas, earning the lowest possible quality rating.
The report also showed declines in diabetes care, nursing homes and treating chronic diseases.
“Because we’re comparing to other states and not some fantasy world, we know it is possible, we know other states are achieving higher performance levels,” said Ernest Moy at the health care agency. “So I don’t think there’s necessarily a reason to think that Texas can’t also achieve that higher level of performance.”
Moy says it doesn’t help that about a quarter of Texans have no health insurance. In fact, the quality of care for people with private health insurance in Texas is average compared with other states. It’s just that everyone else in the state is well below average.
Rachel Hammon, executive director of the Texas Association for Home Care, says some Texans don’t get any health insurance until they turn 65 and become eligible for Medicare.
“Many of these measures are Medicare outcomes, so individuals who might not have otherwise had health insurance all of a sudden have health insurance and are trying to address problems that have not been addressed for many years,” Hammon said. “They’re kind of starting behind the eight-ball, so to speak.”
Michael Speer, president of the Texas Medical Association, which represents doctors in the state, says he’s not surprised by the report but is disappointed in its findings.
“Like so many public health issues, it’s sort of buried,” Speer said. “Occasionally we have reports like this that say we really could do a whole lot better and it wouldn’t cost a lot of money to do that. But you have to have the will to do it, and over the last several legislative sessions, given the budgetary constraints that the Texas Legislature has had to deal with, they’ve cut preventive care. They’ve cut public health initiatives.”
But there were some faint signs of progress in the report. For example, Texas ranked strongly in maternal and child health measures, in part because of the improved availability of certain vaccines and a better-than-average infant mortality rate.