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Child Advocate: Protect Progress on Children's Health Insurance

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Wednesday, September 13, 2017   

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – New U.S. Census Bureau figures show that health insurance coverage is at an all time high in Kentucky and across the country.

Nearly 95 percent of Kentuckians now are covered, including all but 3 percent of the state's under-19 population.

Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, says key decisions are approaching in Washington and Frankfort that will determine if progress continues.

Congress faces an end-of-the-month deadline for reauthorizing funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which provides little or no-cost coverage to around 75,000 lower-income children in Kentucky.

"If we want good things for kids and health, Congress has to reauthorize and re-fund CHIP," Brooks states.

Brooks also is monitoring the Bevin administration's proposed changes to Medicaid, which Gov. Matt Bevin has said should require "skin in the game" from those covered under Medicaid expansion.

Brooks says it's imperative that the changes don't limit parents' access to coverage, because when parents are covered, it's more likely their children are too.

The state is awaiting federal approval of its plan (1115 Waiver) to modify the federal-state health insurance program.

While the governor has floated the idea of adding conditions on recipients for them to maintain coverage, Brooks says new requirements should not hurt working families.

"We can't invent a system that makes it pragmatically impossible to qualify,” he stresses. “Does it mean that the idea of some skin in the game is a non-starter? No, but that skin in the game has to be reasonable. It has to be thoughtful. It has to be appropriate."

The Census data shows Kentucky's uninsured rate has dropped more than 9 percent over the past four years – with just one in 20 Kentuckians still without coverage.





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