Federal Law To Expand Coverage To Kids Is Off To Slow Start

USA Today: "A federal law that President Obama signed early last year to expand health insurance to 4 million more low-income children has gotten off to a slow start because of budget problems in the states. The law makes more than $10 billion in federal aid available each year through 2013 but requires state funds as well." As states have increasingly faced tightening budgets, fewer than half have used the federal assistance "to expand the Children's Health Insurance Program, studies by the Kaiser Family Foundation, National Academy for State Health Policy and Georgetown University Center for Children and Families show. About 15 states scaled back coverage by increasing waiting periods, raising premiums or making signup more complicated, Kaiser's study found." The result is that many states will leave federal money on the table and the target of covering 4 million children may not may not be reached. "The struggles in the states may offer a lesson for the broader insurance expansion projected under a new health care law, designed to cover 32 million more people over 10 years" (Wolf, 5/25).

The Associated Press/Chicago Tribune: Meanwhile, almost "three-quarters of children on Medicaid in nine states are not getting all of their legally required medical, vision and hearing examinations, including immunizations, according to a new government study. The Dept. of Health and Human Services Inspector General's study "estimated that 2.7 million of the 3.8 million children in those states, or 76 percent, did not receive one or more of the medical, vision or hearing screenings during 2007." The nine states are Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, Texas, Vermont, and West Virginia. "Doctors say regular checkups are especially important for low-income children who are at higher risk for chronic problems including obesity, depression and poor cognitive development" (Kennedy, 5/25).

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