Critical health care needs
The nation already is seeing a critical shortage in doctors, nurses and even blood, now Obamacare could push demand even higher.
Last year, a Texas nursing coalition warned "without stable, continued funding for nursing education," demand for nurses in the Lone Star State will exceed supply by 70,000 in 2020.
Kim Kelly at the Vocational Nursing Institute here in Houston says there are a couple of factors at play.
"The average age of nurses is 48," says Kelly. "Ten years from now, what happens when all these nurses can no longer work the floor? In addition, the life expectancy of people is longer, so the need for nurses will be greater."
Even without a Medicaid expansion, nearly two million Texans will still gain health care coverage under Obamacare.
All this has dozens of new schools opening up in Texas. But Kelly warns both students and patients to do their homework.
"There were a few schools out there that opened without any approval, the state went after them and shut them down," she says. "If the school is approved, it’s on the Texas Board of Nursing website as an approved provider."
Meantime, the Red Cross says the national blood supply is at its lowest level in 15 years due to severe weather across the Midwest. That's forcing some hospital to delay surgeries.
Cortney Martin at the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center insists that is not the case locally.
"Fortunately the Houston area hasn't been experiencing what other parts of the country have," says Martin. "We're doing pretty well right now, we're meeting our hospital orders and we're actually on track to meet or exceed our goal for July."
However, she does expect a dip in August.
"People are changing their schedules, they have to worry about getting kids back to school," she says. "Things tend to get a little shaken up during August, and we try to make sure we can continue meeting the needs of our hospitals."
Martin says anyone who donates at Houston's16 local blood centers in August will receive a coupon for a free pint of Blue Bell ice cream.