Low Wages And No Health Insurance In Texas

Paul Krugman reiterates the wage disparity between states in the Northeast and Texas and I would just add that all of this has some serious consequences when it comes to health care coverage:

Of the 211,000 jobs Texas created last year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics tells us that 37 percent paid at or below minimum wage. The state now has the most minimum-wage workers (550,000 in all) in the nation and that naturally translates into a growing demand for Medicaid. In fact, the number of Texans eligible for the program has soared from 2.1 million in 2001 to 3.5 million today and the uninsured rate has also skyrocketed to an astounding 26 percent — the worst in the nation for health care coverage.

The low wage economy also means a low tax structure and constant funding shortages. As a result, lawmakers this year cut $805 million from doctors serving Medicaid patients and postponed $4 billion in Medicaid costs for payment in the next budget cycle. The latest state budget also included an 8 percent cut in reimbursement rates to hospitals, which came on top of a 2 percent cut in the last budget, in addition to a 23 percent cut to trauma care funding.