Have a Heart for Kids Day 2020

No change is good news for children’s health coverage

Ruth 09/10/09

The U.S. Census released its latest insurance numbers this morning, and our colleagues at Washington Kids Count have been busily crunching the numbers for Washington’s kids.

The good news is that coverage rates for children in Washington remained stable at 93.2 percent for both 2007 and 2008. While it’s not great to have 107,000 children (the other 6.8 percent) going without health coverage, things would have been far worse if it hadn’t been for Apple Health for Kids, Washington’s public coverage program for children.

Apple Health appears to have picked up nearly all of the kids who lost employer-based coverage between 2007 and 2008. Employer-based insurance covered 60 percent of Washington kids in 2008, down from 65 percent in 2007. And Government health insurance—most of it Apple Health for kids—went up to providing 36.7 percent of the kids coverage in the state in 2008, from 30 percent in 2007.

We put out a press release today with Washington Kids Count that thanks the state policymakers who had the most to do with maintaining the Apple Health for Kids program in the face of a severe budget shortfall earlier this year--namely, Governor Chris Gregoire, Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, Senator Chris Marr, House Speaker Frank Chopp, and Representative Larry Seaquist.

Schmudget has more information about how adults fit into the picture. Like for kids, uninsurance numbers for the general population haven’t changed much—thanks largely to Medicaid and other public insurance coverage.

Some colleagues in the other Washington, the Center for Children and Families at Georgetown University did a nice blog post of their own on the national data, including that the number of uninsured children in the United States reached its lowest level since 1987 thanks to Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Which brings us to health reform. Child advocates—ourselves included—agree that getting health reform right means making sure that kids don’t lose more than they gain under the new system. The success of Apple Health for Kids in providing coverage when families need it should be an example to the other Washington of what works and should be built on. Politico recently reported that advocates have banded together with liberal Senators to urge Senate Finance Committee to make sure kids with public coverage keep their benefits in the reformed system.

The Center for Children and Families reports that unless these protections are in place, low-income kids could wind up paying more for fewer benefits in a reformed system—particularly if they have special healthcare needs.