Thursday, November 6, 2014

Progress Stalls Connecting More Pennsylvania Children to Health Care

HARRISBURG, Pa. - A new report demonstrates efforts to connect more children to health care coverage seems to have stalled in Pennsylvania, as well as across the nation.

Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown Center for Children and Families, is one of the authors of the study Children's Coverage at a Crossroads. While more and more children had been gaining health insurance coverage over the last several years, she says five million children across the U.S. remain uninsured. Alker says in many states - including Pennsylvania - progress appears to have stalled.

"The other interesting finding is children in working families living on the brink of poverty are those that have the highest rate of 'un-insurance,' compared to other income groups," says Alker.

Slightly more than seven percent of children remain uninsured nationally last year, very close to the percentage from the year before. Almost 5.5 percent of Pennsylvania children have no health insurance coverage.

More than a third of U.S. kids get their health insurance through the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) or through Medicaid. In the past CHIP has had strong bipartisan support in Congress, but when its budget expires next September, Alker says she's worried it may run into partisan gridlock.

"Right now, we have just over five million children who are uninsured in the United States," she says. "If Congress doesn't fund that program, that number could swell to over seven million - so that's a critical decision."

Dan Heyman

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