Have a Heart for Kids Day rally, 2015

Progress worth protecting: Apple Health for Kids

Adam 06/20/17
Map of children covered by affordable, comprehensive Apple Health for Kids

Apple Health for Kids needs our protection right now—and new data highlights just how critical our state’s comprehensive, affordable, award-winning health coverage is for kids and families.

Created by state lawmakers 10 years ago, Apple Health for Kids channels funding from Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to connect 836,000 Washington kids to the health care they need for their optimal well-being. Medicaid and CHIP are supported with federal investments. And a report released last week shows that Medicaid and CHIP support the coverage of a solid majority of children—53 percent—in Washington’s rural areas and towns with populations of 50,000 or fewer.

This is a marked departure from our state’s metropolitan counties, where Apple Health for Kids coverage is supported by Medicaid and CHIP for 38 percent of children. This 15-point urban-rural difference is among the highest in the nation.

This interactive map shows the number of children covered in rural and urban Washington. Medicaid and CHIP are particularly strong in 12 of our state’s 19 rural counties, where they’re connecting:

  • Approximately 18,440 children to health care in Grant County (63 percent of the total number of kids)
  • 9,320 kids in Lewis County (53 percent);
  • 13,690 kids in Cowlitz County (55 percent).

Thanks to Apple Health for Kids, the number of Washington children without health coverage is at its lowest level on record, as are rates of racial inequity in kids’ access to care. Apple Health for Kids is helping get more children of color equitable access to the health care that all kids need.

The federal funding streams for Apple Health for Kids do a lot more.

Our state’s expansion of Medicaid shares some credit with Apple Health for Kids in connecting more communities to health care. Between 2013 and 2015, the rate of uninsurance for Washington children dropped by nearly 56 percent, and their parents followed closely behind at 54 percent. The rate of Medicaid participation among eligible children increased from 88 percent to nearly 96 percent. Leading this trend was the rate of Medicaid participation among income-eligible parents. Over those two years, the percentage of parents eligible for Medicaid who signed up and got coverage increased from 62 to 88 percent: a more than 40 percent increase.

The health and success of our children and families are at risk if we let policymakers in D.C. unravel Apple Health for Kids.

Determined to give the wealthy more tax breaks, Congress and the White House are bent on tearing down Medicaid and CHIP. If they succeed, kids’ health will be in great danger along with many other programs serving kids and families; the projected cost to Washington state is $708 million in the first decade after these harmful federal cuts take place, according to a May study for the Children’s Hospital Association. Now is the time stop these cuts; Apple Health for Kids is too valuable to lose.