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By W. Gardner Selby March 6, 2013

Garnet Coleman says Texas has the most uninsured residents of any state--6 million

A Democratic state legislator aired a familiar — and flawed — claim on a Dallas TV station.

On the Feb. 10, 2013, edition of WFAA-TV’s "Inside Texas Politics," Rep. Garnet Coleman of Houston, who hopes that Texas follows Florida and other states in opening Medicaid to more people, said: "We have the most uninsured people of any other state; it’s 6 million people."

His remark was similar to a recent claim by the editorial board of the Sacramento Bee, which said Texas has the most uninsured residents. We rated that Mostly False after finding that more populous California has more uninsured residents.

Drawing on U.S. Census Bureau research, the Kaiser Family Foundation keeps up with how many residents of each state have health coverage.
Nationally in 2011, the foundation says, some 16 percent of the population was uninsured.

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In Texas, the foundation says, 24 percent of residents had no health insurance — and that was the highest uninsured rate for any state. Some 22 percent of Nevada residents and 21 percent of New Mexico residents lacked coverage, according to the foundation, while California and Louisiana were among five states where 20 percent of the population was uninsured.
The foundation cites as a basis for these percentages the bureau’s continuing household surveys, which suggest slightly different levels of the uninsured dependent on whether the cited survey is a one-day snapshot or one that encompasses several years.
Regardless, Texas has consistently had the highest uninsured rate.
Another foundation chart shows, as Coleman said, that Texas had more than 6.1 million uninsured residents in 2011.

But California had more, with 7.3 million uninsured, the chart says. California’s population exceeded Texas’ by some 12 million.
Separately, we found a lower tally for Californians under age 65 who lack coverage in a December 2012 article by Paul Fronstin of the Washington-based Employee Benefit Research Institute, which says its mission is to enhance the development of sound public policy through objective research and education.

A summary of that article opens: "In 2011, California had the largest number of people under age 65 without health insurance — 7.1 million — of any U.S. state. The percentage of uninsured Californians has risen steadily over the past two decades; the state now has the seventh-largest percentage of residents without coverage in the United States." The summary says, though, that the state’s share of uninsured residents should drop as the federal law known as Obamacare takes full effect.
By email, Fronstin previously agreed California has more uninsured than Texas, pointing to his own analysis of Census Bureau survey research released in March 2012. Still, he said, 27 percent of Texans under 65 are uninsured, compared with 22 percent of Californians.

Finally, we pulled down a bureau chart indicating the number of uninsured in each state from 1999 through 2011. Each of those years, it indicates, California had more uninsured residents than Texas, though the gap narrowed to about 500,000 residents in 2001, 2002 and 2007. California held its biggest edge in 1999 when, the bureau estimates, 6.4 million Golden State residents were uninsured compared to 4.3 million Texans.

By email, Coleman conceded that his broadcasted comment was incorrect, saying: "Texas has the second-highest total number of uninsured people, with over 6 million uninsured," which he called dismal.
Our ruling
Coleman said Texas has the most uninsured residents.
Texas continues to have highest percentage of uninsured residents in the nation, but, in raw numbers, California has about 1 million more uninsured residents. Coleman’s claim has an element of truth, yet it’s wrong on the numbers. We rate it Mostly False.

Our Sources

PolitiFact Texas, Truth-O-Meter article, "Sacramento Bee editorial says Texas has greatest number of uninsured," Feb. 13, 2013

Charts, "Health Insurance Coverage of the Total Population, states (2010-2011), U.S. (2011),"  "Health Insurance Coverage of the Total Population, states (2010-2011), U.S. (2011)", Kaiser Family Foundation (accessed Feb. 11, 2013)
Charts, U.S. Census Bureau, "Health Insurance Coverage Status by State for All People: 2011," results from 2012 Current Population Survey, (downloaded Feb. 11, 2013);  "Health Insurance Coverage Status and Type of Coverage by State--All Persons: 1999 to 2011" (downloaded Feb. 21, 2013)

Research summary, "California's Uninsured: Treading Water," by Paul Fronstin, director, Health Research and Education Program, Employee Benefit Research Institute, for California Healthcare Foundation, December 2012

Email (excerpted), Christopher Walker, chief of staff to state Rep. Garnet Coleman with Coleman’s responses to PolitiFact Texas, Feb. 20, 2013

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Garnet Coleman says Texas has the most uninsured residents of any state--6 million

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