Out of all 50 U.S. states, Texas has the worst health care system, the highest percentage of uninsured citizens and the most prostate cancer deaths, according to a federal report on health care quality released this week.
The 2011 State Snapshots report ranked states on a 100-point system based upon measurements of 155 different key indicators of health care quality, and Texas scored the lowest with just 31.61 points.
The report, produced by an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, compiled data from the National Healthcare Quality & Disparities Reports, which track a wide range of health care indicators like cancer rates, elderly care, early childhood care, infant mortality, disease prevention and deaths.
More than 6.3 million Texans, which includes 1.2 million children, do not have health insurance, according to the Texas Medical Association -- a fact that undoubtedly led to the state coming in last place overall, thanks to the financial drag uninsured people place on hospitals.
But that will soon change dramatically thanks to President Barack Obama's health reform law.
While the U.S. Supreme Court's decision upholding the Affordable Care Act gave states the right to turn down federal funds for expanding health care, and Gov. Rick Perry (R) famously turned down $555 million in federal stimulus dollars earmarked for unemployment insurance, he's surrounded on all sides by health care lobbyists who will be chomping at the bit for Medicaid dollars from the federal government. After all, the state's hospitals were forced to absorb more than $4.6 billion in unpaid emergency medical costs in 2010 alone.
And even though Perry and the state's Republican-dominated legislature have consistently discounted the effects of the federal government's stimulus measures, they have also used those dollars to balance the last two budgets.
In other words, with tens of billions of dollars on the line and the hospital industry banging at the governor's door, Perry is unlikely to go the way of Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), who has said he will forgo federal dollars the Obama administration hopes to use for extending health coverage to more than 17 million lower-income people nationwide.
The 2011 State Snapshots Report named Minnesota and Wisconsin as the nation's leaders in health care quality.