Under The Stethoscope: A Look at the State of Children’s
Health Care in PA
October 29, 2013- Tom Joseph
HARRISURG - As Pennsylvania works to make sure all
children in the state have access to health care, a new report indicates that
roughly one child in twenty does not. According to Joan Benso, president and
CEO of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, her group has found that despite
no lack of effort from both sides of the political aisle, many kids are still
falling through the cracks.
"We still have almost 150,000 children uninsured in
Pennsylvania, and we're looking forward to not only insuring more of them but
being sure, when they have health insurance, children and their families are
using their benefits to the maximum degree possible," Benso said.
She said Pennsylvania is in the process of rolling out a
new marketing campaign to get parents more familiar with the state's Children's
Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Also, a key change is in effect to make it
easier to get access to CHIP.
"We had a requirement that children over the age of
two remained uninsured for six months before they could join our CHIP
program," she recalled. "We just made that requirement go away, and
that's great news."
The report noted that there are about 274,000 uninsured
Pennsylvania parents, and about 131,000 of them would qualify for Medicaid if
Pennsylvania were to expand coverage. Governor Tom Corbett instead is proposing
using federal funds intended for expansion to let uninsured Pennsylvanians
purchase health insurance on the private market.
"So not only do we need to sign more children up for
CHIP and Medicaid in Pennsylvania, find ways to make sure all Pennsylvanians
are insured, including parents of uninsured kids, but then we need to make sure
parents understand how important it is to use the health-care benefits that
exist," Benso declared.
She said the study also reveals that the percentage of
children insured by CHIP and Medicaid benefiting from regular check-ups with
primary-care providers has remained relatively stable, while reliance on
emergency-room visits for health care has increased. Also, 20 percent of kids
aren't receiving timely vaccinations against preventable illnesses such as
polio, hepatitis and whooping cough.