Expert Opinions

Barclay Berdan: Making the Census Count for North Texas

Healthcare funding tops of the list of why everyone should participate.

Barclay Berdan Texas Health Resources
Barclay Berdan (Courtesy: Texas Health Resources)

After previously stating the 2020 Census would run through October 31, 2020, the U.S. Census Bureau recently announced that the last day to self-respond to the census is now Wednesday, September 30, 2020. Months into the count, and only 3 out of every 5 households in Texas have responded to the census.

If you think skipping the census isn’t a big deal, there are roughly 132 reasons that should cause you to reconsider – and healthcare tops the list.

Census data determine the allocation of more than $675 billion in federal funds through 132 government programs – programs that are essential to our state, our region, our neighbors, our friends, and our families.

Even if you don’t directly participate in these programs, ensuring an accurate and fair funding amount has a direct impact on you–and your wallet. In Texas, even just a one percent undercount could cost our state $300 million annually in federal funding over the next decade. And we can’t afford to lose a single dollar.

In the seven months since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Texas, the virus has preyed on the most vulnerable in North Texas (including people with underlying medical conditions, people of color, people who are incarcerated, people with low incomes, and the elderly). The ongoing pandemic only amplifies the importance of responding to the census because the critical resources that arise from the census help the state deliver the services that Texans need to stay healthy and safe. In fact, population data are being used to guide government agencies and health systems in allocating the right amount of resources to the impacted areas in our state.

An undercount could severely impact the economic vitality of the North Texas region in many ways. North Texas businesses rely on census data for market research, economic development and identifying where to expand locations. Getting an accurate census count is also vital to ensure providers have the funding and resources needed to improve the health of the people in the communities we serve. In fact, demographic data help providers understand the communities we serve and empower our organization to provide consumers with the right care, in the right place, and at the right time. Nevertheless, the earlier deadline is heightening considerable risks that our state could be undercounted and that some Texans, particularly groups with lower socioeconomic status, will be missed in the count as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to devastate these communities.

So, I am asking you to spread the word about the importance of self-responding to the census and all that it impacts. And be sure you know what the census does not do. The information provided for the census is confidential and can only be used for compiling statistics. Participants are not asked about citizenship, nor can their personal information be used against them by any government agency or court.

Everyone “wins” when you respond to the 2020 census, because when everyone is counted, there are more opportunities for you to shape the future of your community. When you self-respond to the count, you are playing an important role in ensuring a complete and accurate count. Everyone counts in the census, so please be sure to do your part and get counted.

If you haven’t already done so, please complete your census by visiting www.my2020census.gov.

Barclay Berdan is the CEO of Texas Health Resources

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