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Report places El Paso County in top 30 worst health care coverage counties in country

Updated: Monday, August 12 2013, 12:48 PM MDT

By: Bill Melugin

EL PASO, Texas --

El Paso County has made yet another list it probably doesn't want to be included in.

Twenty-two Texas counties were listed in the top 30 worst health care insurance coverage counties in the nation, and that list includes El Paso County, according to a report released by the left-leaning Center for American Progress.

According to the report, the counties were chosen by the "percentage of uninsured individuals and health-related outcomes" in each county.

The report says more than 6 million Texans have no health insurance. That's a quarter of the state, and the highest state rate in the country.

Using census data from 2010, the report listed El Paso County with a population of just over 700,000.

The report found that in El Paso County:

- Roughly 33 percent of people under age 65 have no health insurance.
- Roughly 34 percent of women under age 65 have no health insurance.
- Roughly 47 percent of men ages 18-39 have no health insurance.
- Roughly 47 percent of all people ages 18-39 have no health insurance.
- Roughly 33 percent of people with incomes between 138 percent and 400 percent of federal poverty line have no health insurance.

"I think it's pretty sad, because we have a lot of people that need health care, and we have a lot of people that are waiting in long lines and it's just disgusting, if people aren't healthy, they can't live," said Rufus Graham, an El Paso resident. "It could very well be a state thing, places like Washington aren't having that problem, that says a lot right there doesn't it?".

"It's surprising because it's something that you don't think about, you hear about El Paso being a very safe city, beautiful weather, but you never hear about people not having the right health care insurance," said Humberto Huerta, an East El Paso resident.

It's a problem El Paso Congressman Beto O'Rourke (D) is well-aware of.

"We have hundreds of thousands of people in our community who live here, who work here, who are trying to raise families here, that don't have health insurance," O'Rourke said. "God forbid something happens to them, they get sick, they have an accident, it's going to be very hard for them to be taken care of, and when they do seek help, it's often going to be at a critical stage, at a public hospital, and it means that you and I end up footing the bill."

Both the Center for American Progress and O'Rourke feel the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) has the chance to benefit Texas greatly.

"Oct. 1 is when the Affordable Care Act, many of its provisions, will be implemented, and that means that hundreds of thousands of El Pasoans will be eligible to buy health insurance," O'Rourke said."I think El Paso stands to gain a lot through this rollout, but my responsibility is to make sure we do this in an effective way that benefits as many people as possible, and listen to the community and improve this where we can."

Not everyone is in agreement that Obamacare will help the state of Texas, let alone be a success.

"I don't know if Obamacare will help, I don't think it will, I think it's going to socialize things, and that's not really good," Graham said.

"How are you going to force people to buy insurance if they don't have the money?" Huerta said.

"If we can get Gov. Perry to agree to accept Medicaid assistance from the federal government, 100 percent of which will be paid for by the government, we can do a better job of serving the health care needs of our population and we can relieve the local taxpayer and his burden to support those people at our public hospitals," O'Rourke said. "One of the reasons President Obama delayed the implementation of the large employer mandate for another year, is we want to make sure that large businesses and employees of any size can afford to offer health insurance, we want to make sure their employees are covered, and we don't want to see any reasons for a business not to hire additional people, to reduce hours, or even to downsize."

The Center for American Progress report can be found here : 

Report places El Paso County in top 30 worst health care coverage counties in country

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