Health
2:18 pm
Fri July 6, 2012

Report: Texas Needs to Catch Up in Quality of Health Care

A new report says Texas is dead last compared to other states when it comes to the overall 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 rating in terms of quality. 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," says Ernest Moy with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. "And 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 carry no health insurance. In fact, if you look at only those people with private health insurance, the report said their quality of care in Texas is considered average compared to other states. It’s just well below average for everyone else in the state.

The executive director of the Texas Association for Home Care, Rachel Hammon, says some Texans actually 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 the sudden have health insurance and are trying to address problems that have not been addressed for many years," she said. "They’re kind of starting behind the eight ball so to speak.” 

Michael Speer is president of the Texas Medical Association, the organization that represents doctors in the state. He says he’s not surprised by the report but is disappointed its findings.

“Like so many public health issues, it’s sort of buried. 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.