Families in this state are facing a health care crisis because no one in Washington is looking out for them.

Unfortunately, Washington seems more concerned about the insurance industry's bottom line than the real needs and concerns of Texas families, and especially Texas children.

Sen. John Cornyn recently said that he thinks Texas is a national model for an effective health care system. But in fact, Texas has the highest number of uninsured children in the nation. We can and must do better.

I believe that we must all unite around the goal of accessible, affordable health care to provide health security for every Texas family. One of the cornerstones of my health care plan is to ensure that every child in our state is fully covered by health insurance.

It is inexcusable that Cornyn believes that Texas should be a model for the rest of the nation when one out of five of our children are not protected by health insurance.

As a father, I know that nothing is more frightening than a child falling sick. I can only imagine the terror that parents feel when they are unable to afford medical treatment for their children. Our current approach is unacceptable - every child in our state should be able to go to the doctor whenever needed.

Yet Washington has consistently blocked reforms and innovations designed to provide more Texas children with health security. Unfortunately, Cornyn has been instrumental in blocking efforts to expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program which would have provided an estimated additional 584,000 children of Texas working families with health coverage.

As the next U.S. Senator from Texas, I will make sure that our health care system is one of which Texans can truly be proud. My health care plan reflects my long-time advocacy of expanding health care coverage to children.

As state representative, I voted for the creation of the Children's Health Insurance Program, which helped expand coverage to over 500,000 Texas children.

More recently, I sponsored legislation that provided health insurance for 165,000 more children, eliminated bureaucratic 90-day waiting lists, and led efforts to allow families to deduct child care costs while the state determined their eligibility status.

As U.S. Senator, I will continue to place the needs of Texas families and children ahead of Big Insurance and Washington lobbyists.

Texans deserve real health care security for their families, and Texas children deserve the protection of being able to go to a doctor when it is needed. It is time for a change - and the health of Texas families depends on it.

Rick Noriega is the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate in Texas.