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Texas Residents' Views on State and National Health Policy Priorities

Texas, the nation’s second most-populous state, has a diverse population in terms of race, ethnicity, immigration status, income, and geography. One of 17 states that did not expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, Texas also has the largest number of uninsured residents among U.S. states. In a new survey, the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Episcopal Health Foundation sought to gauge Texans’ views on health policy priorities at both the state and national level.

Overall, the survey finds that health care is a priority for Texans, with over half saying the state legislature should increase spending on health care programs, similar to the share who want to increase spending on public safety and infrastructure, but behind the share calling for increases in public education spending. Within health care, initiatives that would lower the cost of health care and prescription drugs, reduce maternal mortality, improve access to health insurance and provide funding for mental health programs are seen as the highest priorities.

There is also a robust level of support for state action to expand coverage to low-income adults in Texas, including through Medicaid. Roughly two-thirds of Texans say the state government is currently not doing enough to make sure low-income adults can get the health care they need, and the same share says the state should expand its Medicaid program. This support exists in spite of the fact that only three in ten Texans are aware of the fact that Texas has a higher uninsured rate than other states.

Support for Medicaid may be related to the fact that about seven in ten Texans report some level of connection to the program, saying that they themselves, a child, or a close friend or family member has received help from Medicaid at some point. While partisans differ in their opinion of whether the state should expand Medicaid, majorities of Texans across political parties say they have a favorable view of Medicaid and that the program is working well for most low-income people covered by it.

Future briefs based on the survey will cover Texans’ experiences with health care affordability and access, the views and experiences of those with private insurance, women and children’s health care in Texas, and Texans’ views on social determinants of health.

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.