Texas scores poorly compared to other states in new child health care report

Tags: report, commonwealth fund, children, health care

Texas scores poorly compared to other states in new child health care report

Texas was tagged as one of the worst in providing children with quality health care, ranking 46th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, according to a recent report.

The “State Scorecard,” released in May by the Commonwealth Fund, assesses variations among states’ child health care systems using 13 indicators grouped into five dimensions of performance: access, quality, costs, equity and potential to lead long healthy lives.

In Texas, 20 percent of children are uninsured, putting the state at No. 50 in this dimension, compared to only 4.9 percent in highest-ranked state Michigan.

Because no individual state scored highest in every category and each states’ scores fluctuated vastly across the board, even high-scoring states have the potential to improve, said co-author and Commonwealth Fund Vice President Edward Schor, M.D.

“In looking at the country as a whole, we found that while there are pockets of excellence, there is no one state or region that is doing as well as it could be,” he said in a statement released by the Fund. “This scorecard points to the need to make more information available about children’s health care and to improve the health care system for children.”

Authors of the study—Katherine Shea, M.P.H., Karen Davis, Ph.D., and Schor—scored state performance relative to what is achievable, “based on benchmarks drawn from the range of state health system performance.”

One reason states rank low is because of their failure to establish “medical homes” where each child frequently sees a family doctor, said Gary Floyd, M.D. Floyd is a past president of the Texas Pediatric Society and an active member of the Primary Care Coalition.

The two states faring best in most categories, Iowa and Vermont, recently improved their states’ Children’s Health Insurance Programs and implemented quality-reporting measures.

Although Texas received low rankings in many areas, the state scored high in the potential to lead healthy lives category, specifically on measures of infant mortality and risk of developmental delays in young children.

According to the Commonwealth Fund’s calculations, if all states achieved top levels on each dimension of performance, 4.7 million more children would be insured and 10.8 million more would have a medical home.

“The health of our children is paramount to our country’s long-term success. This scorecard serves notice that children’s health and well-being are at risk,” said Davis in the statement released by the Fund. Davis is the Commonwealth Fund president in addition to co-author. “We must invest in children’s health and health care to ensure that they have the opportunity to become healthy and productive adults. The time to begin is now.”