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Report: Wyoming Still Far Behind on Children's Health Care


Monday, June 21, 2021   

LARAMIE, Wyo. -- Wyoming ranks 45th nationally for child health, and an estimated 15,000 Wyoming kids do not have health insurance, according to The Annie E. Casey Foundation's 2021 Kids Count Data Book, widely viewed as the most comprehensive annual report on children in the nation.

Samin Dadelahi, chief operating officer of the Wyoming Community Foundation, said the state's overall ranking of 17th in the nation would be a lot higher, if not for low scores on children's health.

"When we look at, for example, economic wellbeing in family, community, that's where Wyoming ranked really high, in the top five for the nation," Dadelahi pointed out. "And yet our continuing low score in the health domain, at 45, it pulls that whole number down."

Wyoming ranks 49th, just ahead of Texas, for the number of children without health insurance.

Dadelahi noted public support for Medicaid expansion was so strong in the last session that lawmakers assigned the proposal to the Joint Revenue Committee. Expansion would provide coverage for 24,000 currently uninsured Wyomingites, and is expected to reduce the number of kids without insurance.

Leslie Boissiere, vice president of external affairs for the Foundation, said permanently expanding the Child Tax Credit would provide families with children younger than six, $300 a month, and can reduce long-standing disparities affecting millions of families of color.

"At a time when families are concerned with being able to pay their mortgage, or to pay their rent, it's a significant amount," Boissiere asserted. "It's expected to raise as many as half of children who are currently living below the poverty line to living above the poverty line."

The report showed last December, 21% of Wyoming adults with children reported feeling down, depressed or hopeless. By March of this year, the number jumped to 28%, largely due to disruptions and isolation during the COVID-19 health emergency.

Dadelahi urged lawmakers to consider the rapid rise as they make use of recovery funds.

"Families that might already be under stress, and you add that all on top of it, particularly in rural areas where there is already a lot of isolation and there is a lack of infrastructure when it comes to mental-health supports," Dadelahi explained.

Disclosure: Annie E. Casey Foundation contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Criminal Justice, Early Childhood Education, Education, Juvenile Justice, and Welfare Reform. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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