TX families struggle to keep ahead of pandemic hardships
By Roz Brown
Texas News Service
AUSTIN, Texas — Congress has passed a new stimulus package that will provide most Texas residents with an extra $600 – but that may not go far for families struggling with food insecurity and pandemic-related mental-health issues.
A new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows Texas has the worst rates in the country for health-insurance coverage, both for children and adults. Amy Knop-Narbutis, research and data director for the group Every Texan, said that’s due to public-policy choices that Texas lawmakers could address in the next legislative session.
“Texas is one of the few states that elected not to expand Medicaid,” she said, “and if they were to do so, we estimate an additional 2.2 million uninsured Texas adults would be covered. And we know when parents are covered, their children are more likely to be covered, too.”
From 2000 to 2010, Texas accounted for half of the U.S. child-population growth. Narbutis said between 275,000 and 355,000 uninsured Texas children are eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
The Kids Count policy report examined how households with children are faring during the pandemic, based on surveys conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. Leslie Boissiere, vice president for external affairs at the Casey Foundation, said the pandemic is prompting many parents to experience an overwhelming sense of pressure.
“They’re also struggling with their mental and their physical health,” she said. “One in three has postponed getting needed medical care, and one in five has experienced depression since the pandemic.”
At the same time, since the pandemic began, 16% of Texas adults with children say they “sometimes or often” don’t have enough to eat. The report made multiple recommendations, including distributing federal relief money with racial equity in mind, and for COVID vaccinations to be free of charge.