Barnes: ‘The human and economic cost of inaction is too high’ as 600,000+ Texans lose their Medicaid health insurance coverage

EHF's Dr. Ann Barnes says the health and economic prosperity of Texans are deeply intertwined with policy choices, and Medicaid in Texas is a clear example.
Picture of Dr.  Ann Barnes

Dr. Ann Barnes

EHF's President and CEO

The numbers are staggering: more than 600,000 Texans have lost their Medicaid health insurance coverage. And the numbers are still rising.

That’s because as the COVID-19 public health emergency ends, the rules for eligibility for Medicaid in Texas have reverted to those in effect prior to the pandemic. Texans now have to re-enroll, confirm coverage even when they remain eligible, and deal with sometimes confusing paperwork issues. 

The health costs are clear. Hundreds of thousands of Texans –  mostly children – could be without affordable access to medical care and important health services. That affects everything from preventive checkups to immunizations to management of chronic diseases.

But it’s not only about health and health care coverage. Recent research from The Perryman Group underscores why this is also a dire economic situation in Texas. When Texans lose health insurance, the ripple effect is felt throughout the state’s economy. 

A decrease in health-related spending leads to reduced business activity across communities, undermining the foundation of a “healthy” health care sector. This downturn impacts local businesses, jobs, and the state’s overall economic vitality. Simultaneously, the burden of uncompensated care on hospitals and local governments grows, testing their resources and budgets.

The Perryman Group estimates that when 500,000 Texans lose their health insurance, that equates to a $13.6 billion loss in annual gross product –  $13.6 BILLION!

Texas is one of just 10 states that has refused to expand Medicaid, which has also fueled the reality that Texas has the highest number and percentage of uninsured residents in the U.S. This policy choice has left many low-income, working Texans without access to basic or preventive health care and has significant economic repercussions.

“Texas could alleviate a substantial portion of this problem by expanding health insurance coverage using available federal funds,” researchers say in the Perryman report. “And the state would reap notable economic and fiscal gains in the process.”

The health and economic prosperity of Texans are deeply intertwined with our policy choices. This isn’t merely about statistics—it’s about lives, jobs, and the foundation of our communities. Texas must broaden its horizon and consider all available coverage options for its low-income residents, including a more inclusive approach to Medicaid. The human and economic cost of inaction is too high.