SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Nation/World

December 13, 2013

Data show health disparities among states

(Continued)

But the rate of residents gaining health coverage was more than three times as great in the states embracing the federal health care law than in those whose leaders have resisted it.

In the dozen states embracing the overhaul, more than 50 percent of those who applied for coverage picked an insurance plan or were eligible for Medicaid. That rate was barely 15 percent in the two dozen states that aren’t cooperating in the implementation of the federal health care law.

“It’s very frustrating,” said U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat who voted for the federal law only to see it twice rebuffed in a statewide vote and repeatedly rejected by her home state’s Republican-led state Legislature.

“The political point has trumped the services that Missourians need,” McCaskill said.

In Texas, which has the highest rate of uninsured residents in the U.S., the GOP-controlled state Legislature opted not to create a state-run insurance marketplace and Republican Gov. Rick Perry also declined to expand Medicaid to cover more of the working poor. As of the end of November, just 14,000 Texans had signed up for insurance through the federally run marketplace and fewer than 17,000 of the nearly 245,000 applicants on the exchange had been determined to be eligible for Medicaid.

State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, a Democrat from San Antonio who chairs the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, said he nonetheless remains optimistic about the meager numbers.

“To know that there are people who, despite those odds, are still enrolling is encouraging,” Fischer said.

In California, which also has a high uninsured rate, more than 107,000 people had picked an insurance plan through the state-run marketplace as of the end of November, and nearly 182,000 others had been determined eligible for Medicaid. That means nearly two-thirds of the 448,133 individuals who applied through the insurance exchange could gain some sort of coverage.

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