Nevada Kids Face Worst Insurance Coverage Rate in U.S.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Nevada Kids Face Worst Insurance Coverage Rate in U.S.
According to New National Study

(October 23, 2012) Nevada children experienced the highest uninsurance rate in the nation in 2011, according to a report released this morning by Georgetown University Health Policy Institute’s Center for Children and Families.

Nationally, the report found good news for children as the number of uninsured children declined from 6.4 million in 2009 to 5.5 million in 2011.

“The progress nationwide is due to the success of Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program that have continued to fill the void created by a decline in employer-based health insurance, a high unemployment rate and the increasing cost of private health insurance,” said Joan Alker, Co-Executive Director of the Georgetown University research center.

Nevada has improved slightly but its 16.2 percent uninsured rate for children far exceeds the national rate of 7.5 percent and is considerably higher than the next state on the list – Texas at 13.2 percent.

“Why is Nevada last in the nation in terms of health coverage for children? Because we have failed to keep our commitment to kids and families and have not taken advantage of available funding to address the pressing needs of uninsured children and families,” said Amanda Haboush, Senior Research Associate at the UNLV Nevada Institute for Children’s Research and Policy.

Although Nevada’s unemployment rate led the nation during most of the recent recession, enrollment in Nevada Check Up, which provides health insurance to children in low-income families, has declined from a high of 29,899 in June 2007 to below 21,500 since December 2009.  Despite the fact that the federal government pays some 70 percent of the cost of this program, the State of Nevada stopped funding outreach and enrollment efforts in order to keep state costs down during this critical period.

“Nevada can make changes today that will ensure more eligible children receive coverage, by cutting red tape to make it easier for families to enroll and prioritizing outreach efforts,” Alker said.  “The Affordable Care Act offers Nevada a historic opportunity to improve its insurance coverage rates.”

If the Governor and the Legislature opt to extend Nevada Medicaid to low-income, uninsured adults, the federal government will pay 100 percent of the cost for the first three years. The Nevada Department of Health and Human Services estimates 25,000 parents of low-income children would be included.

“Research is clear that covering parents means more eligible children will become connected with coverage,” Alker said.  “When parents have health insurance coverage, children are more likely to receive preventive care and other health care services they need.”

Using data from the American Community Survey, the report examined trends in children’s coverage over a two-year period, from 2009-2011. It looked at both the national and state changes in the number and rate of uninsured children, as well as the demographic characteristics of which children remain uninsured.

The report also found disparities in insurance rates among demographic groups.  Nationwide, Hispanic and school-aged children were disproportionately uninsured, as well as those living in rural areas.

“As other states move forward, Nevada children and families should not be left behind,” said Denise Tanata Ashby, Executive Director of the Children’s Advocacy Alliance. “Putting the Affordable Care Act into place to help uninsured children and families is the best opportunity we’ll have for generations and our state leaders should not squander this important opportunity.”

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The Georgetown University Center for Children and Families (CCF) is an independent, nonpartisan policy and research center.  You can find the full report here.

The Children’s Advocacy Alliance (CAA) is a community-based nonprofit organization in Nevada that provides an independent voice dedicated to achieving public policy wins in the areas of child safety, health and school readiness. The Alliance creates lasting change by tackling the biggest issues that kids and families face.

The Nevada Institute for Children’s Research and Policy (NICRP) is a not-for-profit, non-partisan research and policy center under the School of Community Health Sciences at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. More information can be found at http://nic.unlv.edu.

Contacts: Denise Tanata Ashby, Executive Director, Children’s Advocacy Alliance, 702-544-9629, denise.tanata@caanv.org

Amanda Haboush, Senior Research Associate, UNLV Nevada Institute for Children’s Research and Policy, 702-895-1040, Amanda.haboush@unlv.edu