11 February 2010

Trends in health care coverage for American children are mixed: eligibility has expanded, but states – including Tennessee – are cutting back

Access to health care is a fundamental component of optimal early childhood brain and physical development. Across Tennessee, 158, 759 children were without health insurance in 2008. Meanwhile, an additional 646,054 children from families in poverty received health care coverage through the TennCare program. In Shelby County alone, 133,864 children received health insurance coverage through Tenncare. Across the state, an additional 32,069 children in low-income families were insured through the state CHIP program, CoverKids. In Shelby County, 4,054 children received insurance through CoverKids. In spite of rising unemployment and growing numbers of families in poverty, a lack of funds caused the state CoverKids program to suspend enrollment in December of last year.

In 2008, state Children’s Health Insurance Programs (CHIP) coupled with the federal Medicaid program provided health benefits to more than 35 million children nationwide. Outreach efforts and expanded program eligibility resulted in a reduction in the number of uninsured children across the U.S. (falling from 8.1 million in 2007 to 7.3 million in 2008). There is more good news when it comes to health care for children: the passage of the CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2009, is estimated to mean that an additional 2.6 million previously uninsured children will gain health insurance coverage.

Every Child Matters Education Fund. (2010). Where Health care reform stands in congress. Retrieved from http://www.everychildmatters.org/National/News/Where-Health-Care-Reform-Stands-in-Congress.html

Insure Kids Now. (n.d.). Facts and figures. Retrieved from http://www.insurekidsnow.gov/facts/index.html

Kaiser Health News. (2010). Millions more children added to medicaid, chip rolls in 2009. Retrieved from http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/Stories/2010/February/04/chip-medicaid.aspx

The Urban Child Institute, . (2009). Covering kids' health needs. Center for Urban Child Policy, Retrieved from http://www.theurbanchildinstitute.org/Download.php?fileId=4abcdd75c831c2.31242311

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