More Hispanic-American children get health coverage

Fewer Hispanic children in the US lacked health insurance in 2014 than in 2013, with the uninsured rate falling nearly 2 percentage points to 9.7%, according to a report from Georgetown University and the National Council of La Raza. One factor in the improvement was opportunities for parents to obtain coverage through the Affordable Care Act, the report says. Kaiser Health News (1/15)

Medicaid and CHIP Beat Private Plans in Access to Pediatric Preventive Care

Children with Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) have greater access to preventive care than do children with private insurance, according to a survey by PolicyLab at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. David Rubin, MD, MSCE, of PolicyLab suggests requiring private plans on the exchanges to match Medicaid’s mandatory benefit and cost-sharing provisions. He noted that some new insurance plans in the commercial market are tiering specialty providers as out-of-network, which blocks access for children with special healthcare needs.

Seventy-eight percent of caregivers of children with Medicaid and CHIP say the insurance always meets their needs compared to 73% of caregivers of children with private insurance. Eighty-eight percent of children with Medicaid or CHIP had access to preventive medical care compared to 83% of children with private insurance. Eighty percent of children with Medicaid have access to dental care compared to 77% of children CHIP and 73% of children with private insurance.

Getting specialty care is a challenge for children in all coverage types, with as many as one in four having difficulty seeing a specialist. However, these challenges are greatest for children with CHIP (28%) and for privately insured children with special health care needs (29%). Seventy-seven percent of caregivers of children with private insurance have out-of-pocket costs compared to 38% of those with CHIP, and 26% of those with Medicaid.

CHIP renewal, court ruling affect coverage for nearly 2M children

An Urban Institute report predicts that 1.9 million children would lose coverage if Congress decides not to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program and if the Supreme Court rules against Affordable Care Act subsidies. “The combination of both policies would mean a lot of progress we’ve made over the last 20 years would be wiped out,” Urban Institute senior fellow Lisa Dubay said. The Hill (3/18), Modern Healthcare (tiered subscription model) (3/18)

3M more Americans gain Medicaid, CHIP coverage

More than 3 million additional people across 46 states had signed up for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program by Feb. 28 compared with October of last year, bringing the total to about 61 million, according to a CMS report released Friday. “The increase in Medicaid enrollments across the country is encouraging, but more work is left to do to ensure that the millions of uninsured Americans eligible for these programs gain coverage,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said. The Washington Post (tiered subscription model) (4/4), The Wall Street Journal (tiered subscription model) (4/4), Politico (Washington, D.C.) (4/4)

California Children Lack Vital Dental Care

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry says that children should have a dental visit no later than their first birthday. But 37% of two- and three-year-olds in California have never been to the dentist, according to a report by Children Now. The rates are even lower for California’s poorest young children, as only one in three, ages birth-to-three, enrolled in Denti-Cal have seen a dentist.

By kindergarten, over 50% of children in California have experienced dental decay and 28% have untreated decay. California students miss 874,000 days of school each year due to dental problems, costing schools over $29 million each year. Children who reported recent tooth pain were four times more likely to have a low grade point average. Approximately 3.6 million children are enrolled in Denti-Cal with nearly half of all California children expected to be enrolled by 2014.

Most dentists see a low volume of children on Denti-Cal. Dentists often cite low reimbursement rates as the reason for not accepting Denti-Cal patients. In addition, 22 California counties have no pediatric dentists who accept Denti-Cal.

The 2013 to 2014 state budget includes a 10% reimbursement rate reduction to most Medi-Cal providers. The only pediatric service affected by the cut is dentistry, despite the fact that California already ranks among the lowest nationally in reimbursing dental providers in Medicaid.

The Dept. of Health Care Services worked to recruit more dental providers in 2013, during the state-mandated transition of children from Healthy Families to Medi-Cal. However, the Medi-Cal payment rate cuts are likely to reduce the number of providers.

The California Dept. of Health Care Services is creating a statewide pediatric oral health action plan to increase the number of children (ages one to 20) who get preventive dental services and children (ages six to nine) who get a dental sealant. These strategies will help increase dental utilization for children enrolled in Medi-Cal.

The report offers the following recommendations for the state:
• Increase Medi-Cal dentist reimbursement rates.
• Provide incentives for pediatricians to explain the importance of routine dental care to parents.
• Expand the use of tele-dentistry (the delivery of dental-related services and information via telecommunications technologies) to reach under served child populations.
• Expand the oral health care workforce so more children can access needed services.
For more information, visit

Autistic Kids Being Denied Critical Care

A coalition of children’s health and autism support organizations says that hundreds of California’s children are suffering from disruptions in critical health care services as the state transitions from the Healthy Families Program to Medi-Cal. In particular, children in Healthy Families who had been receiving standard therapy for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are being denied these services in Medi-Cal, often with less than a week’s notice.

Governor Brown’s Administration has continually promised that no children would lose access to services during the multi-tiered transition of over 900,000 children from Healthy Families to Medi-Cal. California Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Diana Dooley was quoted as saying that officials would not shift children from Healthy Families to Medi-Cal unless they were sure the children would receive adequate health care: “We will delay the transition’ for certain children if they are unlikely to receive adequate care under Medi-Cal.” She said, “At this point, everything is on track.”

Now, after the transition of over 600,000 children to Medi-Cal, children’s health advocates say it is clear that everything is not on track. “These problems represent a shameful failure to provide for children who the state has known for at least six months were at risk of losing services,” said Ted Lempert, president of Children Now.

Advocates worry interruptions in autism services may foretell broader challenges. “We know that only a small percentage of affected families ever file a complaint, and since the state’s monitoring of the Healthy Families transition has been woefully inadequate, other continuity of care issues may take a while to surface,” added Karen Fessel, executive director and founder of the Autism Health Insurance Project.

Boomers Don’t Expect Their Children to Foot LTC Costs

About half of people age 50 and over say that paying for their LTC costs will take away from the money intended for their children as an inheritance. Forty-three percent would rather use these funds to cover LTC costs than pass money to their heirs. However, the escalating costs of health care and lack of proper planning have many Americans hoping just to break even and not be a burden to their children. The Harris Interactive poll surveyed 813 Americans age 50 or older with at least $150,000 in income or investable assets.

Only 21% expect their children to be helping them in retirement – including giving physical care and financial support, and letting them live in their homes.

The survey also reveals the following:

• 45% have discussed the cost of LTC with their spouse; 23% have discussed it with their financial advisor; 10% have discussed it with their children; and 6% have discussed it with their parents.
• Only about 11% of people over 55 have LTC insurance.
• 23% are not planning for LTC expenses; 22% plan to cover the costs with their 401(k) or retirement savings; and 21% plan to use their personal savings.
• 64% are not aware that some states have laws that can force children to pay their parents’ unpaid nursing home bills.

John Carter, president of distribution and sales for Nationwide Financial said, “It is important to start discussing LTC planning as a family and develop a well thought out plan so that parents and children understand where LTC funding will come from and parties feel secure in the approach.” The traditional stand-alone LTC policy is the most commonly known long-term planning choice. While these products are very customizable, some people don’t like the use it or lose it aspect. Some innovative products include LTC riders that can be added to life insurance coverage, he added.

Advisors report that only 15% of their clients have a good understanding of the potential costs of LTC. People living to age 65 have a 70% chance of needing some type of LTC in their lifetime. The average cost per year for a nursing home is projected to be $265,000 by 2030 and that is not even for a private room. For more information, visit

Diabetes-related deaths among U.S. youths are down

An analysis of data from the National Vital Statistics System showed a 61% decline in the rate of children and teens age 19 and younger dying from diabetes-related causes from 1968 to 2009. Improved treatment, greater awareness of symptoms and better disease management education may have contributed to the drop in deaths, CDC researchers said. The findings appear in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. (11/1)

Unintentional injuries are leading cause of child deaths in U.S.

Unintentional injury claimed the lives of more than 115,000 people aged 19 and younger between 2000 and 2009, making it the leading cause of child death in the U.S., CDC researchers wrote in the Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report. They noted that infants and 15- to 19-year-olds were the most affected age groups and that more than half of the deaths were due to motor vehicle accidents. News (10/18)

More U.S. children opt out of school-mandated vaccinations

The number of parents who chose not to give their children school-required vaccines due to nonmedical reasons increased between the 2005-2006 and 2010-2011 school years, Emory University researchers found. They noted that states with less strict vaccine exemption policies as well as those that allowed philosophical exemptions had higher rates of nonmedical exemptions. The findings appear in the New England Journal of Medicine. News (9/19)

Last Updated 06/29/2022

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