Q: Why is an accurate Census count important for Texas?
Hospitals can download our
2020 Census Toolkit for resources to encourage staff and patients to participate in the Census here: tha.org/census.
Parkland Health & Hospital System, Dallas
VICE PRESIDENT, GOVERNMENT RELATIONS
There is a major misconception that if you don’t receive benefits from Census-funded programs such as Medicaid, food stamps, housing vouchers or other governmental programs, there is no reason to participate in the census.
That couldn’t be further from the truth.
A major loss in federal funding due to an undercount could result in an increase in local taxes. Additionally, federal dollars are used to assist with funding for vital services such as public safety, transportation and economic development. For example, in Dallas for fiscal year 2019-2020, the city received at least $35 million in federal funding for vital services. That funding was determined based in part on Census data. An undercount could significantly reduce funding eligibility, in turn, reducing the quality of those essential services.
Therefore, it is imperative that everyone – men, women and children – be counted in the 2020 Census. A failure to do so would mean a loss in funding not only on the local level, but for the entire state.
JULIA ANDRIENI, M.D.
VICE PRESIDENT OF POPULATION HEALTH AND PRIMARE CARE, PRESIDENT AND CEO OF HOUSTON METHODIST COORDINATED CARE ACO, PRESIDENT AND CEO OF HOUSTON METHODIST PHYSICIANS' ALLIANCE FOR QUALITY
Participating in the 2020 Census is critical because there are many important federal and state programs with funding distributed across the nation according to the population as recorded through the decennial census. Texans were severely undercounted in the 2010 Census due to low participation rates. Too many census tracts in Houston and across Texas had less than 30% of households that responded.
We can do better and must do better for our state. Based on 2010 results, Texas received over $43 billion in fiscal year 2015 alone through sixteen of the largest federal assistance programs. We know that these investments in early education, nutrition programs, housing, and transportation are among the list of social determinants of health that can have a grave impact on health in addition to access to mental health services and Medicaid.
Texas hospitals have a unique opportunity to make a significant impact through outreach campaigns educating not only patients but also our own employees and clinicians. Across the Houston Methodist system, we have over 26,000 employees and more than 800 physicians in our primary care and specialty care groups. The Census Bureau has already developed partner materials that make it easy for you to communicate with your employees and patients before Census mailings begin in March.
As Texas continues to see population growth year after year, and with Houston expected to be the third largest metro area in the United States, we have a civic duty to raise awareness about the significance of participating in the 2020 Census. It is more important than ever that Texas hospitals and leaders advocate and engage our internal and external audiences to increase participation and bring much needed resources to our communities.
Center for Public Policy Priorities, Austin
KATIE MARTIN LIGHTFOOT
CENSUS COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT COORDINATOR
Every ten years, the Census counts every person living in the United States, once, only once, and in the right place. The Census is mandated by the U.S. constitution with the first Census taking place in 1790. Soon, Texans will be invited to participate in our country's democracy by responding to the 2020 Census and saying, “Texas counts!”
The 2020 Census is essential for our democracy. The population in Texas has exploded since 2010, and it is important that we get an accurate count in 2020. In addition to potential changes to the electoral vote, Texas could gain as many as three new Congressional seats. Just as important, Texas will have the opportunity to redraw the boundaries of our congressional and state legislative districts to account for population shifts accounted for with data from the 2020 Census.
The 2020 Census will affect the quality of life for Texans. Much of the federal money that Texans send to Washington comes back to Texas in accordance with Census calculations. This federal funding helps fund our health care system in addition to many other important efforts such as education, hunger programs, affordable housing and early childhood programs.
An undercount of Texas’ population by even 1% could result in a $300 million loss each year for the next ten years in federal funding to a range of important federal programs that provide support to Texans and our local communities – Medicaid, Medicare Part B, Children’s Health Insurance Program and Community Health Care Centers. This loss would put a significant burden on already tight state and local budgets as well as our hospital budgets and philanthropic support. It is critical that we get an accurate count in Texas so our communities can be healthy and thrive.
Getting an accurate count faces a few obstacles. Today, 25% of Texans live in hard-to-count neighborhoods. Digging deeper, there are specific populations that are difficult to count including but not limited to children under 5, immigrants, people of color, rural residents, families that move frequently and people who face language barriers.
Hospitals are a great place to spread the word about the Census! Hospitals employ thousands of people in our state and regularly connect with hard-to-count populations. Hospitals can serve as a trusted messenger to ensure your patients as well as staff are educated about the 2020 Census and feel confident to complete the questionnaire. Some examples of activities that hospitals can participate in are: posting information, flyers for handout, directly discussing with patients and/or staff, tablets in waiting rooms and social media posts. For more information on how to get involved, please visit