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TN Looks to do Better than "46th for Kids"

July 2, 2007

Keeping kids healthy is a slippery slope. That's the story for Tennessee in the new KIDS Count report that tracks data on indicators of a healthy childhood. The state made improvements, but other states made progress more quickly, so the state slipped to 46th in the nation for healthy kids. Shelby Tabeling with the Tennessee Conference on Social Welfare says the numbers have been taken seriously, and the new CoverKids state insurance system is one of the ways the state wants to make life better for kids.

“This program is just starting up, they're using the S-CHIP money, and 4,000 have been enrolled.”

Tabeling notes that CoverKids has a shaky future, though, because it's part of the federal State Children's Health Insurance Program that's up for reauthorization in Congress. She adds that initial proposed funding is a fraction of what's needed, and thousands Tennessee kids would lose out on the coverage -- many before they ever had a chance to sign up.

Tennessee is one of the top states for infant mortality, something strongly tied to affordable, accessible health care.

“We at least want funding so that we can move forward in Tennessee. The numbers don't lie. We've got work to do here to make sure our kids have a better chance in life.”

KIDS Count data is online at www.kidscount.org/cgi-bin/cliks.cgi.

Deborah Smith/Eric Mack, Public News Service - TN