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In a Jan. 6 New York Times op-ed column, liberal economist Paul Krugman warns that Texas is the future, and it isn’t pretty: "What we’re seeing right now is a future that doesn’t work."
Among his charges is that Texas is "leading the nation in the percentage of residents without health insurance," the column says.
Texas has so long been cited as the state with the highest percentage of uninsured residents that factual corroboration seldom follows.
When we asked Krugman for backup, he pointed us to 2007-2009 data from the U.S. Census Bureau comparing the percentage of uninsured residents between states. According to to the bureau’s estimates, Texas ranked first at that time, with 25.5 percent uninsured. New Mexico followed, with 22.6 percent, and then Florida, 20.9. Nationally, 15.8 percent were uninsured, according to the data, with Massachusetts having the fewest uninsured, 5.1 percent.
An October 2008 policy paper by the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation notes that "Texas has the unfortunate distinction of leading the nation in the number of uninsured citizens," but takes issue with the Census Bureau’s methodology, which "includes anyone uninsured at the time the survey is taken."
Separately, we found a national poll indicating Texas ranked No. 1 in uninsured residents the first half of 2010.
According to the Gallup poll, an average of 26.8 percent of Texas residents were uninsured. Mississippi trailed in second (25.8 percent), followed by Louisiana (24 percent). California landed fifth, with 21.9 percent. And Massachusetts, which requires residents older than 18 to have health coverage, ranked again as the state with the smallest percentage of uninsured residents: 4.9 percent. Gallup said it interviewed 176,193 adults from Jan. 2-June 30, 2010.
By available indicators, Texas has the nation’s highest percentage of uninsured residents. We rate Krugman’s statement as True.
The New York Times, Op-ed: The Texas Omen, Jan. 6, 2011
U.S. Census Bureau, Comparison of uninsured rates between states using 3-year averages: 2007-2009, Sept. 28, 2010
Gallup.com, Texas maintains highest number of uninsured, Mass. lowest, July 30, 2010
Texas Public Policy Foundation, Policy perspective: It’s not about insurance, October 2008
E-mail interview with Paul Krugman, economist, Jan. 12, 2011
Interview with David Guenthner, director of media and government relations, Texas Public Policy Foundation, Jan. 19, 2011
Interview with Eric Nielsen, senior director of media strategies, Gallup, Jan. 21, 2011
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