For months, Crooks and Liars has documented an often overlooked but inescapable truth of the contentious health-care reform debate: Health care is generally worst in those red states where the Republican political leadership is most opposed to reform. (For example, see here, here, here and here.) Only now, after the narrow House vote this weekend, did CNN look at the Republican Senators committed to blocking health care for their residents who need it most.
Monday's "Keeping Them Honest" segment hosted by Anderson Cooper came three days after Texas Governor Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich in a Washington Post op-ed proclaimed the Lone Star State a model for health care policy. But as Cooper finally discovered, Texas "lawmakers voting against health care reform" happen to represent "the state with the worst number of people covered by health insurance."
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, here's what we found out today. There are more uninsured in red states than there are in blue states, which is interesting since all Republican senators are expected to vote against the public health care option.
As for Texas, which leads the nation with a staggering 25% of its population uninsured, the human toll of Republican obstructionism is devastating:
COOPER: And what about Texas? The state with the most uninsured, I mean --- with the most uninsured?
KAYE: And also the children there, too, as well are also uninsured. And if you look at the numbers for Texas, one quarter of Texas' entire population is without health insurance. That's six million Texans, Anderson.
The state's children are in really bad shape, too. The Census Bureau says, about 1.3 million children in Texas are without health insurance which is more, actually, than 18 percent. So if you look at those numbers, 18 percent in Texas compared to the U.S., 10.3 percent of children in the U.S. without health insurance…
COOPER: So if -- in Texas if the rate of uninsured dropped to like the national average, what does that mean for people there?
KAYE: It would be pretty significant, it turns out, Anderson. If Texas could reduce its uninsured rate from 25 percent to 15 percent to match the national average, another 2.4 million people in Texas would be covered. That's a lot of people.
That's a lot of people, indeed.
But the tragedy in Texas hardly ends with its swollen rolls of uninsured. As I recently detailed, Texas ranked 46th in the Commonwealth Fund's 2009 scorecard of state health care performance. Among the poster children for the failure of red state health care, Rick Perry's state brought up the rear across the five areas measured. And when it comes to health care access and equity, Texas is dead last.
Of course, Texans have plenty of company among their red state brethren when it comes to dismal health care. The Commonwealth Fund's analysis tells the tale. While nine of the top 10 performing states voted for Barack Obama in 2008, four of the bottom five (including Arkansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Louisiana) and 14 of the last 20 backed John McCain. (That at least is an improvement from the 2007 data, in which all 10 cellar dwellers had voted for George W. Bush three years earlier.)
Meanwhile, back in Washington, the opposition to health care reform legislation from the two Texas Senators appears to be directly proportional to their constituents' misery. As CNN's Randi Kaye concluded:
Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison's people told us that she is in favor of health care reform but against the public option. Hutchinson calls the bill the House just passed over the weekend a quote, "terrible bill that hijacks our health care system."
The senator says she will quote, "Do everything in her power to prevent this bill and anything remotely similar to it from passing the senate." Instead, she says medical malpractice reform and tax credits for people who purchase insurance will lead to more affordable health insurance.
Texas' other senator Republican Senator John Cornyn wants competition and choice. He has said a government-run single payer system, Anderson, would drive insurers out of the market and limit competition.
Sadly for John Cornyn's mythmaking, a "government-run single payer system" is not part of the legislation either passed by the House or now in front of the Senate. But as CNN belatedly discovered, everything – including the lies over its tattered health care system - is bigger in Texas.