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Child Advocates Cautiously Optimistic About Health Insurance Program

Core benefits of hawk-i include checkups, immunizations, dental care and eyeglasses. (Semevent/Pixabay)
Core benefits of hawk-i include checkups, immunizations, dental care and eyeglasses. (Semevent/Pixabay)
September 15, 2017

DES MOINES, Iowa – A federal program that funds health coverage for more than 83,000 Iowa children will run out of money at the end of the month, but there's reason to be hopeful. Earlier this week, the Senate Finance Committee reached agreement on a plan to protect the Children's Health Insurance Program, which covers children whose parents earn slightly too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but a resolution has not been reached in the House.

Anne Discher, interim executive director of the Child and Family Policy Center, says research shows that kids served by the program are better off than their uninsured cohorts.

"They're more likely to do well in school, they're more likely to graduate from high school and attend college, more likely to get a better-paying job," she explains.

The initiative is offered through the Healthy and Well Kids in Iowa program, also known as "hawk-i." The White House has broadly suggested making changes to the program to ensure it's more targeted at, what it calls "the most vulnerable low-income families and children." Under current rules, an Iowa household with one child could earn no more than $36,000 a year to qualify.

Families served by hawk-i pay no more than $40 a month for child health coverage through a Managed Care Organization. Discher says preventive care is among the offerings in the plan.

"They have a robust set of services that are really designed for the unique developmental and health needs of kids," she adds. "They cover preventive care, well-child visits, you know, the kinds of things that we know kids need to grow up to be healthy and ready to succeed in life."

Discher says the program traditionally has had bipartisan support.

Kevin Patrick Allen, Public News Service - IA