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Missing Out on Good News? Big Drop in NY Uninsured Kids

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013   

NEW YORK - New York is in the top five for states that have managed to reduce the ranks of uninsured children - but a new poll shows public perception isn't in tune with that reality.

According to the poll from the Georgetown Center for Children and Families, most Americans think the numbers of children living in poverty and without health coverage have gone up. However, Joan Alker, executive director of the center, said the public gets it right on poverty but wrong on insurance coverage.

Alker said that's especially true in New York, which has seen a recent drop of nearly 20 percent in uninsured kids.

"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 said. "I think that's an important 'good news story' that needs to get out."

Alker said many families can't afford to buy their own health coverage right now, so it is vital that these programs are available to cover both children and families.

Kate Breslin, president and chief executive of the Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy, said it's no accident that 40,000 fewer children are going without health coverage since 2010.

"What it really shows is New York's longstanding commitment to maximizing coverage through Medicaid and Child Health Plus for low-income kids and families," she said. "We're in the top five in terms of the reduction in uninsured kids."

While New York's urban areas saw significant improvement in getting health coverage to more children, she said, the state's rural areas did not record the same progress.

"We need to pay particular attention to our children who are living in rural communities," she said, "and make sure that we keep pushing down the uninsurance rate so that ideally, we can get all kids insured across New York."

Providing health insurance has lasting benefits, Breslin said, because when families can stay healthier and parents don't have to worry about unpaid medical bills, the whole family is more financially secure.

The report and poll are online at ccf.georgetown.edu.


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