Report: Calif. Ranks Last in Caring for Children With Special Needs
California received the lowest ranking in the nation on key measures related to delivering health care to children with special medical needs, according to a report released Wednesday, "California Watch Blog" reports.
The Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health commissioned the study, which was produced by the Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative at Oregon Health & Science University.
The study used data from the 2007 National Survey of Children's Health and the 2005-2006 National Survey of Children With Special Health Care Needs (Lin, "California Watch Blog," 11/18).
The report ranked California behind all U.S. states and the District of Columbia in caring for children with special needs, even though California has a lower-than-average percentage of children with special medical needs. About 14.5% of California children have special health care needs, compared with about 20% of children nationwide.
The report defined children with special needs as those who have at least one chronic condition requiring complex care, such as:
- Cerebral palsy; or
- Heart disease (Payers & Providers, 11/18).
According to the report, about 17.1% of the 1.4 million California children with special medical needs receive health care services that meet a minimum quality standard, compared with about 40.3% of such children nationwide.
To meet theÂ minimum standard, children must:
- Have adequate health insurance coverage;
- Receive basic preventive services; and
- Have access to regular,Â coordinated and comprehensive care ("California Watch Blog," 11/18).
The study also found that less than 55% of California children with special medical needs receive routine preventive care, compared with more than 69% of such children nationwide.
Possible Reasons for State's Low Ranking
Christina Bethell, OHSU associate professor and lead author of the study, said California's low ranking might stem partially from the complex local and state government bureaucracies that parents must navigate to obtain care for their children (Payers & Providers, 11/18).
The report found that nearly 15% of California children with special needs have faced difficulty accessing community-based services, compared with about 10.5% of such children nationwide ("California Watch Blog," 11/18).
In addition, inadequate insurance coverage might pose some challenges. According to the study, 65.3% of California children with special needs have sufficient insurance coverage, compared with about 77% of such children nationwide.
To improve care for California children with special medical needs, the report authors recommended:
- Improving health insurance coverage; and
- Requiring insurers to cover mental health care to the same extent that they cover other medical issues (Payers & Providers, 11/18).
David Alexander, president and CEO of the Lucile Packard Foundation, said that reworking California's health care system to meet the needs of children with special medical issues could lead to systemwide health care improvements for all residents ("California Watch Blog," 11/18).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.