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Report: Maine Lags Behind New England Neighbors in Covering Kids

Photo: There are thousands fewer kids going without health coverage in New England, but a new poll shows many are missing out on that good news. Photo credit: Georgetown University Center for Children and Families
Photo: There are thousands fewer kids going without health coverage in New England, but a new poll shows many are missing out on that good news. Photo credit: Georgetown University Center for Children and Families
November 25, 2013

AUGUSTA, Maine - New England states are leading the nation in a new report that compares states' efforts to get health coverage to uninsured children, but Maine is clearly lagging behind its neighbors. The number of uninsured children in Maine increased by about 1200 in 2012 and 2013, according to a new report from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families.

According to the Center's research associate professor and senior fellow, Tricia Brooks, Maine is still breaking the 95 percent mark and providing better access to health coverage for kids than much of the nation, but it is not keeping up with the region.

"They have an uninsured rate of 4.6 percent and that puts them in 16th place among the states, and that's a bit concerning," she said. "They're certainly not keeping up with their New England neighbors."

A poll also released by the Georgetown Center shows most Americans incorrectly assume the numbers of children without health coverage have gone up, but Brooks said New England states are setting the pace for much of the nation by increasing access to health coverage.

The Center's executive director, Joan Alker, said many families can't afford to buy their own health insurance right now, so it is vital that there are programs out there that are working, and states that are willing to let people know about them.

"Very few Americans are aware of the success that our country has had through Medicaid and CHIP in reducing the number of uninsured children," she declared. "And I think that's an important 'good news story' that needs to get out."

Tricia Brooks said the states that are doing the best at increasing access, such as Massachusetts, are also the ones that elected to expand Medicaid coverage. She pointed out that expanding coverage to parents also helps kids.

"But instead, the state actually is planning to cut back coverage for parents, and that may have a chilling affect on kids' coverage, so I'm a little worried about Maine."

In the Georgetown poll, nine out of ten Americans agreed that all children in their state should have health coverage.

The full report is available at bit.ly/1dSXSzP.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - ME