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Posted by on Jul 6, 2012 in At TMV, Health, Places, Politics, Society | 9 comments

(UPDATES) Report Card on Texas Health Care Quality — Not Pretty


From the Arkansas Times, “Arkansas Source for News, Politics & Entertainment,” this bit of entertainment:

Health Care Thank God for Texas and Oklahoma

If not for those two states, Arkansas might rank worst in the country at health care services and delivery, according to this rating by the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality.


And Republicans ask why in the world Gov. Mike Beebe would talk about expanding Medicaid or participating in a program that would dramatically increase the number of people in Arkansas with health insurance.

We’re better than Texas, aren’t we? Ain’t that enuff?


See other “Update” below

What is happening in Texas when it comes to health care quality is — regardless of what Rick Perry would have you believe — nothing to write home about.

Oops! I am already home — in Texas.

Anyway, a new federal government report developed by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), one of 12 agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services, rates Texas as “weak” overall in health care quality and gives it the poorest score in the country.

A set of graphics titled “Texas Dashboard on Health Care Quality Compared to All States,” summarizes over 150 health care quality measures and States’ performances relative to all States and the region by:

• Overall health care quality

• Types of care (preventive, acute, and chronic)

• Settings of care (hospitals, ambulatory care, nursing home, and home health)

• Five clinical conditions (cancer, diabetes, heart disease, maternal and child health, and respiratory diseases)

• Special focus areas on diabetes, asthma, Healthy People 2020, clinical preventive services, disparities, payer, and variation over time

The Austin American-Statesman’s Mary Ann Rose, who has analyzed the report, quotes one of the researchers, Dr. Ernest Moy, “For some states like Texas we hope it will motivate policymakers and providers to improve the quality of care,” and reminds us that “Texas has the highest rates of uninsured people in the nation, which likely affects the rating.”

According to Rose’s analysis:

Texas rates below the average of all other states on these factors:

• Home health care patients who get better at getting in and out of bed

• Home health patients who have shortness of breath

• Home health patients who have pain when moving around

• Home health patients with urinary incontinence

• Treatment of women under 70 with breast cancer who received breast-conserving surgery and radiation within a year of diagnosis

Read more about it, including areas where Texas manages to get into the “average” ratings, here.

The graphics report card can be examined here.


According to the (Dallas-Fort Worth) Star Telegraph, the spokeswoman for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, said Thursday that the report goes far beyond what state agencies control, but she said it demonstrates the need to improve access to preventive health care and that “Hospitals and other health care providers have come together to form regional partnerships, and they’ll soon be sending the state their plans for making better use of Medicaid funds to expand access to preventive services and reduce the need for expensive emergency room care.”

The Telegraph also reports that “The Texas Medicaid law for the disabled and poor offers one of the most limited health care programs in the nation, and more than 25 percent of Texans do not have health insurance of any kind, which is the highest uninsured rate in the nation.”

Republicans, who control every statewide office and represent a majority in the Legislature, have rejected the new federal law, which calls for almost every eligible U.S. citizen to get health insurance. Some have pledged to block any effort to expand Texas Medicaid, which is a joint state and federal program, in order to get more people insured.

Last year, Texas lawmakers underfunded Medicaid by more than $4 billion and that bill will come due when they meet again next year. Top officials have estimated that the Legislature will need to find at least $10 billion in new funding for Medicaid at a time when Gov. Rick Perry has pledged not to increase state spending.

Democrats have called on the state to close tax loopholes to raise more money for both health care and education programs.

Read more here.

Graphic: AHRQ