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Texas Health Institute


THI Releases New Uninsured Projections · Nacogdoches County Taking Mental Health Steps ·

 On the Road with THI · Live Smart Texas Tackles Obesity Epidemic ·

Mental Health Transformation Focused Forum Report ·

THI Releases New Uninsured Projections

Uninsured Populations Climbing Statewide Long Range Forecast: Metro Areas Hit Hardest

Austin (TX) – New data released today from the Texas Health Institute indicates the growing struggle of Texans to attain health coverage will continue to worsen through the year 2040. While some rural areas of the state are predicted to show decreases in the rate of uninsured, urban communities will see increases of up to 37 percent in Texans with no health coverage.

The Texas Health Institute report, created by the Texas State Data Center, analyzes population trends and rates of uninsured forecasts over a 35-year period. The report notes from the data, rural population declines in many areas of the state. As population numbers decrease in rural areas, so do the number of uninsured Texans living in those areas.

The greatest shift in uninsured rates in Texas appear in Metropolitan Statistical Areas, (MSAs) – the largest percentages of change occurring in Beaumont (37.5%), Waco (34.6%), Tyler (32.5%), Dallas-Ft. Worth (30.1%), Longview (29.4%) and Houston (25.2%).

These increases in uninsured Texans will create an even greater financial and operational burden on regional medical centers across the state says Dr. Roland Goertz, Waco family practice physician and President of the McLennan County Medical Education and Research Foundation. “These projections by the State Demographer are extremely concerning for safety net providers like community health centers. Not only does Texas need to address health insurance issues, we also need to invest in infrastructure improvements and the healthcare workforce,” said Goertz, who also serves as clinical professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas. “Without recognizing these imperatives we will be facing a crisis of access to care, not just for the uninsured, but for all.”

While health care providers are already experiencing the financial effects of uninsured care, they are not alone in feeling the pinch. As insurance costs continue to rise in Texas, small businesses are struggling to provide insurance coverage to their employees. Many employers are passing cost increases along to their workers. Texas families now pay more than the national average in premium costs while one-in-four Texans remain uninsured.

In recognition of Cover The Uninsured Week, April 27-May 3, Texas Health Institute, a non-profit health policy think-tank, is recommending twelve uninsured policy solutions which would extend health care coverage to 2.7 million Texans, creating 90,000 new jobs throughout the state. “Texas Health Institute recognizes the costs for statewide coverage are great - $1.6 billion of state funds annually and a federal match of $1.7 billion – however, the salvation of our health care system and employment benefits to Texans will greatly offset annual costs,” said Camille D. Miller, THI President and CEO. “We have an opportunity to alter the uninsured forecast of our state and set a new course for improving the health of all Texans. The time to implement effective solutions is now.”

During Cover The Uninsured Week, Texas Health Institute is participating in a number of events to bring attention to the uninsured issue. A community workshop in San Angelo, a health conference in Arlington and a presentation to Texas legislators and other stakeholders in Austin will highlight the release of the new uninsured projections and the health care solutions THI has developed with the help of community and health care leaders across the state.

Link to Uninsured data projections 2005 - 2040.

Nacogdoches County Taking Mental Health Steps

If your hospital emergency rooms, hospital inpatient beds and jails and are filling with people in mental health crisis mode, it’s time to rally the troops and find better solutions. That’s just what is happening in Nacogdoches County. “I’m glad we’re there for people, but we’re generally not the right place for those experiencing a mental health crisis,” says Tim Hayward, Nacogdoches Memorial Hospital Administrator and THI Community Collaborative member. “They’re tying up hospital beds and it doesn’t get those in crisis the help they deserve with their issues.”

On February 5th, Nacogdoches County Commissioners agreed to help fund part of the project led by the Burke Center in Lufkin to serve 12 East Texas counties, alleviating expensive and time-consuming burdens on law enforcement and hospitals not equipped to respond to mental health emergencies. The proposed facility will provide dedicated services for families, walk-in patients, law-enforcement and referred patients as well as capacity for 9 patient assessment areas and a 14-bed voluntary crisis residential program.

Susan Rushing, CEO of the Burke Center, says funding will be contributed by those entities currently providing services, including thirteen area hospitals, county funds, individual donations and through grant contributions. The project will seek a Department of State Health Services grant to initiate the program, which could begin as early as June of this year in temporary locations. “The State has 25 million dollars in competitive grant funds available and we believe there is strong evidence to support funding the rural mental health needs of our twelve counties,” said Rushing. Annual operating costs of the program will exceed $2.2 million with grant funds potentially funding up to 75% of the project. The remaining 25% of funds will be raised at the local level. Tim Hayward says the sustainability of the new center lies in the ability of area providers and communities to underwrite the ongoing operational costs. “This is a problem we can address by working together as one large community.” Visit to learn more about the Burke Center’s work or click here to view the project fact sheet.

On the Road with THI

Health Policy in Your Hands - A Conference of Texas Faith Leaders

Camille Miller, THI President, unveiled the organization’s new Raising the Bar on Health Care Solutions policy brochure at the Impact Texas conference at the Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest in Austin on February 10th. The new brochure, generously underwritten by Methodist Healthcare Ministries, sheds light on four of the most pressing health care issues in Texas: The Uninsured, Obesity & Diabetes, Mental Health and Healthcare Workforce Shortages. The policy solution brochure will be available for distribution in March and may be downloaded in .pdf format from

The conference recognized religious leaders as strong and compelling voices for change and was an effort to equip them with concise policy information and theological reflection on health care and health care reform. Among the presenters were Dr. Eduardo Sanchez - Director, Institute for Health Policy, University of Texas School of Public Health at Houston, Reverend Linda Walling - Executive Director of Faithful Reform in Health Care, Gordon Atkinson – Pastor, Covenant Baptist Church in San Antonio, Beaman Floyd – Lobbyist and Bee Moorhead – Executive Director of Texas Impact.

For more information on this conference and related topics, please visit

Live Smart Texas Tackles Obesity Epidemic

Health Policy in Your Hands - A Conference of Texas Faith Leaders

So, how is that New Year’s weight loss resolution working for you? Thousands of Texans struggle with overweight and obesity issues and now Live Smart Texas is working to reframe how we approach healthier living. By developing leadership, policy, programs, intervention research and communications strategies, Live Smart Texas hopes to impact not just weight loss but the many chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart disease which often result from obesity.

Dr. David Lakey, Texas Department of State Health Services Commissioner convened the February 8th Live Smart Texas Collaborative Meeting and was joined by Dr. Deanna Hoelscher of the University of Texas-Houston School of Public Health and Dr. Diane M. Dowdy, deputy director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Active for Life National Program Office at The Texas A&M; Health Science Center School of Rural Public Health. Dr. Hoelscher, Brian Castrucci, Director of Family Health Research and Program (DSHS). Chair of Partnership for a Healthy Texas gave an update of the Partnership’s latest work and Camille Miller, CEO of Texas Health Institute co-chaired the collaborative.

For more information on the work of Live Smart Texas, please visit

Mental Health Transformation Focused Forum Report

At the THI Focused Forum on February 19, roundtable discussion reviewed eleven community challenges to mental health transformation, community successes and solutions. The program featured Sam Shore, Texas Department of State Health Services; Susan Garnett, MHMR of Tarrant County; Sherwin Daryani, City of Fort Worth Public Health Department; Valarie Garza, Texas Health Institute, Camille D. Miller, President of Texas Health Institute and roundtable discussion from over 100 participants. The eleven focus areas include:

  1. Housing & Employment
  2. Consumer Voice
  3. School-based Mental Health
  4. Integration of Mental and Physical Health & Prevention
  5. Workforce
  6. Stigma
  7. Criminal Justice
  8. Crisis Intervention
  9. Veterans
  10. Aging and Mental Health
  11. Information Technology

Special thanks to our roundtable facilitators and reporters: Bob Stewart, Dallas County Project Transform; Erin Ferris, Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs; Mike Halligan, Mental Health Consumers; Linda Meigs, Child Advocate; Wendy Andreades, Texas Department of State Health Services; Judy Willgren, Texas Health and Human Services Commission; Vicki Coffee-Fletcher, Hogg Foundation; Donette Castle, MHMR Center; Mimi McKay, Department of State Health Services; Lynn Lasky Clark, Mental Health America of Texas; Dee Wilson, Texas Correctional Office on Offenders with Medical or Mental Impairments; Jon Weizenbaum, Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services; Blair Carter, Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services; Steve Eichner, Department of State Health Services; Annie Burwell, Williamson County Mental Health Task Force; Valarie Garza, Texas Health Institute; David Sherman, Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services; and Robin Peyson, National Alliance on Mental Health of Texas.

THI will utilize the input from this focused forum to develop a report for use as a guide in realizing further accomplishments in the transformation of mental health in Texas.

Please see the following handouts and presentation pieces from the meeting:

Consumer Family and Youth Voice Handout
Consumer Voice Accomplishments
Speaker Bios
Tarrant County Mental Health Connection presentation
Texas Health Institute presentation


Funding for this conference was made possible (in part) by 5 U79 SM57485-02 from SAMHSA. The views expressed in written conference materials or publications and by speakers and moderator do not necessarily reflect the official policies of the Department of Health and Human Services; nor does mention of trade names, commercial practices or organizations imply endorsement by the US Government.