October 28, 2015

TOPEKA – A new report by Georgetown University reveals more missed opportunities to improve childhood health in Kansas.

The report, based on the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey data, reviews children’s health insurance rates in 2014 across the United States. Although Kansas’ rate of uninsured children in 2014 was at an all-time low of five and a half percent, there is much room for improvement compared to progress nationally and in other states.  While Kansas saw no statistically significant change between 2013 and 2014, 25 states experienced significant decreases in their number of uninsured children, leading to an historic U.S. decline during the same one-year period.

Shannon Cotsoradis, Kansas Action for Children President and CEO, attributes much of Kansas’ stagnation to new barriers making it more difficult to connect children to available coverage and other programs at the state level. Last week, the state’s annual KIDS COUNT report highlighted sharp enrollment drops in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and child care assistance over the last five years.  Additionally, supplemental analysis from Kansas Action for Children reveals enrollment drops for our youngest, poorest kids eligible for Medicaid. Average monthly enrollment of poverty level eligible children (ages 1-5) in the state Medicaid program has dropped by more than 6,000 children since 2012.

“The Georgetown report is one in a long line of independent analyses revealing troubling trends in child health within our state,” said Cotsoradis. “While the nation as a whole works to expand health care access and affordability for children and families, Kansas policymakers remain focused on punishing poor people. Adding red tape and new barriers to state supports only ensures that today’s poor children become tomorrow’s poor adults.”

In addition to reducing state-level barriers, researchers at Georgetown University suggested the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid option would help Kansas children and families. The report found states that expanded Medicaid coverage to more uninsured adults saw nearly double the rate of decline in uninsured children as compared to states that didn’t accept the ACA’s Medicaid option. Of the nation’s 15 states with the lowest rate of uninsured children, 14 expanded Medicaid.

“Research has shown that covering parents reduces the number of uninsured children,” said Joan Alker, executive director of Georgetown University Center for Children and Families. “Children thrive when their parents are healthy and economically secure. Improvements in health coverage for parents benefit the whole family. Medicaid expansion would be a very smart choice for Kansas to make on behalf of its low-wage workers – and its economy.”

The report is available here.

# # #

The Georgetown University Center for Children and Families (CCF), part of the McCourt School of Public Policy’s Health Policy Institute, is an independent, nonpartisan policy and research center founded in 2005 with a mission to expand and improve high-quality, affordable health coverage for America’s children and families.