Cuts to Medicaid Would Badly Damage Health Care in Rural Texas

Six-week-old Lilly was born premature and is struggling to gain weight. She needs regular weight checks to monitor her progress, breastfeeding support for her mother, and a nutritionist to ensure her caloric intake is sufficient. Her difficulties are particularly stressful for her mother because Lilly's family lives in a rural county in northeast Texas with limited health care resources. Her family drives an hour each way to see me, and her mother has already returned to work, so we must coordinate her nutrition and lactation appointments for the same time. Coordinating care for children in rural areas is challenging. Thankfully, Lilly and thousands of other children in rural Texas have health coverage through Medicaid to provide them the best chance to grow and thrive.A recent report by Georgetown University Center for Children and Families and the University of North Carolina Rural Health Research Project confirms what many who care for patients in rural areas suspected: Children and families in small towns and rural areas rely on Medicaid for health coverage and cuts to Medicaid could be devastating for rural America. In Texas, 46 percent of children in rural areas and small towns are enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP compared to 41 percent in urban areas.One promising finding from the report is that since 2008-09 the rate of uninsured adults in rural areas has dropped from 35 percent to 29 percent in Texas. At the same time, the rate of uninsured children in those areas dropped from 18 percent to 11 percent. The increase in the number of children in small towns and rural areas with health coverage was the largest in the U.S.  Continue reading...

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