Wednesday, August 27, 2008

One-Fourth of Texans Don’t Have Insurance

It’s worse around here:

“…the Census Bureau reported Tuesday. Texas' overall uninsured rate of 25.2 percent, and its 20.2 uninsured rate for children, continued to be the highest in the country.”
- From the Houston Chronicle

California ranks higher in numbers than Texas, but percent-wise is still doing better.

It’s not like every state has an equal problem. According to the Temple Telegram, only 8.3 percent of residents in Hawaii and Massachusetts were uninsured between 2005 and 2007.

For information on each county, check out Texas Medical Association’s Table of Uninsured Rates for all Texas Counties here. It’s a little outdated, but it gives a good idea of just how bad it is for Texas’ families.

Don’t Be Misled: Decrease in Uninsured Does Not Signify Improvement

The Census Bureau is reporting that for the first time since W came into office, the number of uninsured Americans has decreased. In 2006, 47 million families were uninsured. Today, that number is 45.7 million. Hurrah for the one million families who now have coverage, but what about the nearly 46 million more who don’t?

“The numbers represent a kind of scorecard on President Bush's stewardship of the economy at the kitchen-table level. However, they only go as far as the end of last year, before the current economic downturn started gathering force. Indeed, they could come to be seen as a snapshot taken at the high point of the administration's tenure.”
MSNBC Census: Number of uninsured dropped in 2007

I’m sure that the current administration would like the public to view these numbers as a sign of its success and of improving economic conditions. Ha! Only an idiot would believe that. God knows, the Bush administration has run out of time to make a difference. I’m praying our next president can and will.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Sunset Commission Says TRCC Flawed, Harmful

Thank God.

The Texas Sunset Advisory Commission is recommending that the Texas Residential Construction Commission (TRCC) be abolished.

Their report, the full text of which can be found here, minces no words: “Current regulation of the residential construction industry is fundamentally flawed and does more harm than good.”

Consumer groups stand with the Sunset Commission. Here’s what Alex Winslow, Executive Director of Texas Watch, had to say:

“Like many of the homes built by bad builders in our state, the TRCC is beyond repair. We need to scrap it, go back to the drawing board, and implement a process that truly protects homeowners.

“We endorse the Sunset staff’s recommendation to bring an end to the TRCC as we currently know it. Lawmakers should replace the feckless TRCC with real reforms that ensure builder accountability, quality building standards, and true oversight and regulation of the homebuilding industry. Instead of a builder protection agency like the TRCC, homeowners need an agency designed to serve their needs.

“Consumers need real protections against unscrupulous builders who build shoddy homes, and the TRCC has never provided homeowners with that kind of protection. Indeed, homeowners – not builders – are the ones regulated by the TRCC.

“We look forward to working with the Sunset Commission and the Legislature to develop real solutions to the problems facing Texas homeowners”

As attorneys know and, unfortunately, many consumers find out, the TRCC’s dispute resolution process to settle issues between homeowners and builders is a disgrace and waste of time. Recent legislation designed to increase penalties on negligent builders has done nothing to relieve the nightmares that homeowners are having, since the Commission has no power to enforce.

Of course, the TRCC sees it differently. The Quorum Report's Daily Buzz posted the TRCC response to the Sunset Commission on Tuesday. The TRCC worries that if it is abolished, “Texas families will be left to fend for themselves if an issue arises with their home.”

Let’s be honest. Texas families have been alone on this front for a long time without help and in most cases, with hindrances, from the TRCC.

Without the TRCC, at least homeowners can proceed directly to the one arena where they still stand a chance – the courtroom.