Texas - STILL NUMBER ONE??

Texas - still NUMBER ONE? 
by Paul Burkhalter, Esq.

Recently, I posted some comments I made when I spoke as a Texas Attorney at a Social Security Disability conference in Mississippi last year.  My point was that Texas leads the country in uninsured individuals and a lot of people in our State that might not otherwise be disabled are so, because of their inability to get treatment for conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.  Those statistics demonstrated that Texas led the nation as the number 1 state in the number of citizens lacking any health insurance coverage.  Mississippi was number 2 and Louisiana was number 3 in the national rankings of states with citizens without health insurance. 
As I mentioned, attorneys that help claimants obtain Social Security Disability benefits, also help them obtain Medicare and/or Medicaid, which are federal government health insurance programs that finally allow them to receive medical care.  Also, we can try and help individuals who are waiting to have their Social Security Disability claims decided locate low cost or possibly free medical services designed for those who have no income and have medical need.
I am still waiting for last years' (2011) state-by-state ranks for the percentage of population and I am afraid Texas will still be number 1,   However, the national numbers are out and it is not good.  The national uninsured rate is at an all-time high of over 17% - which is still much lower than the Texas rate.  So, having individuals becoming disabled and having to file for Social Security disability as a result of lack of healthcare is likely to continue to be a reality.
One small bright spot – due to the 2010 federal healthcare law (sometimes called “Obamacare”) the uninsured rate for those 18 to 25 has declined.  (Other provisions that are expected to decrease that ranks of the uninsured in the whole population have not yet started – but will come in the future).
Due to State budget cuts in the last few years I have observed that the state of mental healthcare for those who have no insurance has really gone off the cliff.  I have seen that the problems are the most severe in Waco.  Over the last year or two I have had several clients who had obvious severe mental impairments.  Some had difficulty holding sensible conversations; others had obvious problems being out in the pubic – even at the Social Security Disability hearing office.  Yet none of them had been able receive regular mental health services from the Heart of Texas Mental Health and Retardation Center (and see a psychiatrist) and were merely on a wait list to get treatment.  Some had been on the wait list for over a year.  One individual had actually been assigned an MHMR case worker (who is not a doctor but only a social worker) who would check on the mentally disabled person at his home every week – but still had not been able to actually see a mental health doctor and receive medications for his condition.  This was  despite him having a case worker observing that he  was seriously mentally ill and needed help.  When an MHMRA case worker cannot even get an individual in to see a psychiatrist at his own clinic things are bad.  Lack of ability to get treatment should not be a reason to be rejected from getting Social Security Disability.   An attorney can help. 

Source:  “More Americans Uninsured in 2011: However, more adults aged 18 to 26 now covered” by Elizabeth Mendes, January 24, 2012, Gallup. Com (http://www.gallup.com/poll/152162/Americans-Uninsured-2011.aspx)

Carl M. Weisbrod
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Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law
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