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Two important reports were released this week which highlight both the great strides that we as child advocates have made to ensure that every child has access to affordable and quality health insurance as well as emphasizing the need for public health insurance programs as private-employer sponsored insurance (ESI) is on a steep decline.
The Fiscal Policy Institute (FPI) released a report detailing the number of New Yorkers who are now uninsured as a result of employers reducing ESI or individuals turning away from private insurance due to the increasing cost of premiums. Since 2007, the number of New Yorkers without insurance has risen by 550,000. The percentage of people without health insurance coverage has risen faster in New York State than in the US and is due in large part to the steep reduction in ESI.
However, a new report by Georgetown University Health Policy Institute’s Center for Children and Families offers a glimmering hope to the dismal FPI findings. The report states that New York is one of 33 states that have reduced the number of uninsured children since 2008 and that the number of uninsured children has declined by over 23,000 since 2008. More and more families are turning to coverage under Child Health Plus as insurance premiums are increasing and ESI is decreasing. New York State’s community-based Facilitated Enrollment (FE) program has significantly contributed to these numbers by enrolling and renewing more than 150,000 children in New York City alone since 2009.
New York State is filling in the gaps with the Child Health Plus program where private companies have fallen short in providing employees and their families with private employer-sponsored insurance. Part of the mission at CDF-NY is to ensure that no child is without health insurance coverage and these numbers mark an important step toward our goal. However, there are still nationwide disparities in health insurance coverage. Hispanic and Native American children are disproportionately uninsured, older children are less likely to be covered than younger children and uninsured rates are higher for children living in families earning below 50 percent of the poverty line. Despite the considerable gains we have made in the coverage of children in New York, we still have work to do to ensure that these disparities disappear and every child in New York has access to affordable and quality health insurance, and, in turn, quality care.
All children, regardless of race, ethnic make-up, or socioeconomic status, deserve the right to affordable health services of optimal quality, which will ensure the best possible health outcomes. Giving all children an equal opportunity in this way optimizes the potential for a physically and emotionally healthier society. At CDF-NY, our mission is to ensure that every child has a healthy start in life. Accessing primary and specialty care for prevention and treatment of illness is a necessity to ensuring health for a child. With the implementation of Health Care Reform in New York State, CDF-NY commits to continue to build upon its successes in securing access to health care for children in New York while ensuring that standards of quality in care are also realized.