Our Statement on Children's Access to Health Care

Posted March 11, 2017
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Blog ourstatementonchildrensaccesstohealthcare 2017

Like all Amer­i­cans, the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion believes every child deserves a bright future. And in our near­ly 70 years of work­ing to make that future a real­i­ty, we have learned that a child’s best chance for suc­cess in life — and for becom­ing an adult who ful­ly con­tributes to our pros­per­i­ty as a nation — is a healthy start from birth.

Hav­ing access to health care helps pro­vide that healthy start — a fact that we hope our country’s lead­ers and deci­sion mak­ers bear in mind as they debate the future of the Afford­able Care Act, Med­ic­aid and the Children’s Health Insur­ance Program.

Research indis­putably shows children’s health is the foun­da­tion of their phys­i­cal, intel­lec­tu­al and emo­tion­al devel­op­ment. Healthy kids are more like­ly to attend school, be ready to learn and grad­u­ate from high school and col­lege, while poor health in child­hood can have life­long consequences.

For near­ly three decades, the Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT Data Book has pro­vid­ed an annu­al snap­shot of how America’s chil­dren and fam­i­lies are far­ing in every state and across the nation as a whole, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the areas of edu­ca­tion, eco­nom­ic well-being, health and fam­i­ly and com­mu­ni­ty life. Over the years, we’ve not­ed progress in some areas and set­backs in others.

But one area where we’ve cel­e­brat­ed progress is in children’s health — specif­i­cal­ly, the steadi­ly grow­ing num­ber of kids in this coun­try who have health insur­ance. Over the past 20 years, the per­cent­age of chil­dren with­out cov­er­age dropped to 5%, from near­ly 15%. Today, about 95% of Amer­i­can chil­dren have health insur­ance, a his­toric high. Since 2008 alone, the rate of unin­sured chil­dren has fall­en by 40% over­all, improv­ing across all racial and eth­nic groups. The rate is as low as 2% in some states.

This progress didn’t hap­pen of its own accord. It came about because of poli­cies that have expand­ed access to health insur­ance for kids — and for their par­ents, who are more like­ly to enroll their chil­dren for cov­er­age when they them­selves have insur­ance. It came about because of the Children’s Health Insur­ance Pro­gram and expan­sions to Med­ic­aid. Indeed, states that have expand­ed Med­ic­aid in recent years expe­ri­enced almost twice the drop in their per­cent­age of unin­sured chil­dren com­pared to states that chose not to expand the program.

With all of these great strides for­ward, now is the time to pro­tect the progress made and con­tin­ue the push to ensure every child has access to health care. We can­not afford to cede ground when it comes to the well-being of our kids, for their health fore­casts ours as a nation.

Hav­ing access to health care means rais­ing health­i­er chil­dren. Chil­dren who are able to do bet­ter in school because they have the glass­es they need. Chil­dren who received appro­pri­ate treat­ments because of ear­ly screen­ings and well­ness check­ups. Chil­dren whose fam­i­lies don’t face finan­cial ruin if they have a seri­ous or chron­ic ill­ness that requires reg­u­lar med­ical care.

And health­i­er chil­dren mean a health­i­er and more pros­per­ous coun­try. The foun­da­tion we lay for our youngest today deter­mines our suc­cess tomor­row. Today’s young Amer­i­cans — near­ly 74 mil­lion lives that hold so much promise — are our next gen­er­a­tion of par­ents, inven­tors, artists, sol­diers and lead­ers, the very bedrock of our future.

As an orga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cat­ed to improv­ing the lives of America’s chil­dren, the Foun­da­tion rec­og­nizes the fun­da­men­tal impor­tance of health, and we and our part­ners remain com­mit­ted to ensur­ing all of our country’s chil­dren have what they need to thrive, includ­ing guar­an­teed access to health care for them and their par­ents. We will con­tin­ue sup­port­ing efforts that help move us toward that bright future for every child in Amer­i­ca. And we call on our nation’s lead­ers and law­mak­ers to do the same by pri­or­i­tiz­ing the health of our nation’s kids as they make their decisions.

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