North Texas Population Growth Outpaces Dallas

November 12, 2012

The demographic surge in five counties north of Dallas includes a growing number of children who lack health insurance, according to a new report by Children’s Medical Center (www.childrens.com).

The 2012 edition of Children’s annual Beyond ABC report will be released today at a community symposium moderated by Texas state Sen. Florence Shapiro. The report provides reliable data about the health and welfare of area children. It’s the second edition focused specifically on five North Texas counties: Collin, Cooke, Denton, Grayson and Fannin.

While the population trends in North Texas have created pockets of prosperity, Beyond ABC: Assessing Children’s Health in the North Texas Corridor shows increased demand for basic child health services. Some 453,403 children now live in the five counties - an 8 percent increase since Children’s last survey of the area in 2010. And all five counties have at least twice the national average of uninsured children, including Cooke County at 23.9 percent and Grayson at 19.1 percent.

“One of the things we want to emphasize is that this trend is not just about North Texas, or even the state,’’ said Christopher J. Durovich, president and chief executive officer of Children’s Medical Center. “One in nine U.S. children now lives in Texas, so what happens here is important for the entire nation. An alarming number of those children lack medical coverage for even routine care.”

Among the report’s more surprising findings: Collin County had a 69 percent increase in pediatric Medicaid enrollment between 2008 and 2011, while Denton County had a 76 percent increase.

But while Medicaid enrollment has ballooned, the percentage of Texas physicians accepting new Medicaid patients has dropped from 42 percent in 2010 to just 31 percent in 2012, according to a survey by the Texas Medical Association.

Beyond ABC also looks at other indicators of child health and well-being. It found that 8.5 percent of children in North Texas live in poverty, defined as an annual household income of $23,050 for a family of four. In Collin County, the number of children living in poverty doubled between 2000 and 2010.

The report includes a series of policy recommendations based on input from Beyond ABC’s citizen
advisory board. They include protecting state funding for child health and safety programs despite a projected budget shortfall for fiscal year 2013-2014.

The panel also recommends protecting funding for preventive healthcare programs, as well as those
aimed at prenatal care and pregnant women on Medicaid. The public health infrastructure should be
enhanced, especially in rural areas, and legislators should be encouraged to increase reimbursement rates to pediatric providers who accept Medicaid and CHIP patients, the report says.

Today’s symposium panel includes:

  • Dr. Ray Tsai, medical director of MyChildren’s, a subsidiary of Children’s Medical Center which provides a medical home for underserved children in clinics across North Texas

  • Dr. Timothy M. Bray, director of the Institute for Urban Policy Research at University of Texas at Dallas and research team leader for the Beyond ABC report

  • Summer Collins, director of population and public health research at the DFW Hospital Council Foundation

  • Tonia Cunningham, victim advocate for the Frisco Police Department

  • Melinda Smith, health/physical education coordinator for the Plano Independent School District

Beyond ABC is a tool to better understand the needs of area children through objective data and to encourage active engagement in improving children’s lives. This year’s report is the 11th edition.

“Next year, Children’s Medical Center will celebrate its centennial,” Durovich said. “Since our founding in 1913, our mission has been to make life better for all children. We know that a healthy childhood is an essential investment in the future for North Texas and for our nation.”

EVENT DETAILS
The media may attend today’s “Assessing Children’s Health in the North Texas Corridor’’ symposium at 10 a.m. at Children’s Medical Center at Legacy, 7601 Preston Road, Plano.

Media should enter the parking lot off Hedgcoxe Road, park in the first lot on the left marked “visitor parking” and check in at the main desk inside. A Children’s representative will escort media to the conference.

About Children’s Medical Center

The private, not-for-profit Children's Medical Center is the fifth-largest pediatric healthcare provider in the country, with 559 licensed beds, two full-service campuses and 10 outpatient sites. Children’s was the state’s first pediatric hospital to achieve Level 1 Trauma status and is the only pediatric teaching facility in North Texas, affiliated with UT Southwestern Medical Center. For more information, please visit www.childrens.com. For a copy of Beyond ABC: Assessing Children’s Health in the North Texas Corridor, go to http://www.childrens.com/about-us/leading-the-way/child-advocacy/beyond-abc.aspx