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If parents can’t get on Medicaid, what chance do kids have?

September 27, 2012

povertyThe Census Bureau just released new data on poverty, income and health insurance for last year, and the numbers aren’t pretty. Poverty is remaining at the levels we have seen for the past few years, and yes, it is still abysmal for children: 15 percent of Americans and 1 in 5 children live in poverty. And guess what? Lack of insurance is closely tied to that number. Nearly 14 percent of children living in poverty lacked health insurance last year, compared with under 10 percent for children overall, a number that stayed flat despite the decrease in the rate for everyone under 65.

What a conundrum (watch the video. Maybe members of Congress should be asked the same question as it relates to health care). With all of the current rhetoric around health care reform the bottom line is that 22.3 million children living in poverty remain uninsured. Why? One big reason is that getting enrolled and through the red tape is about as easy as getting rid of kudzu (Okay Southerners, educate the rest of Network Nation about kudzu). One study found that increased Medicaid coverage leads to fewer deaths, and another shows that new insurance for some low-income children made them 60 percent more likely to have an annual checkup. However, merely being “eligible” for insurance doesn’t equate with being insured.

The good news is that all low-income children were originally designed to get health insurance once the Affordable Care Act was passed. But we are now realizing the impact of that one little pesky provision that was struck down guaranteeing states would expand their Medicaid programs. At least seven governors have flat out said that they’ll refuse the expansion, and others may do that same.

So theoretically, stump speakers will tell you children who are living in poverty will remain eligible for health care. How confident are you that theory will match up with reality and that they will actually get it?

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