RWJF Report Examines States’ Progress with Uninsured
A new "State of the States" report -- part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's "State Coverage Initiatives" program --examines the measures states took last year to expand health care to the uninsured. The report, prepared by the Academy for Health Services Research and Health Policy, includes descriptions of states' CHIP program expansions and the use of insurance market reforms, and discusses states' 2001 policy agendas. The following is a brief summary of the report:
CHIP: In an offering an "incremental match" and "increased state flexibility," CHIP has "changed the way many states approach health care," the report states. Due, in part, to the success of CHIP, the percentage of uninsured children nationwide declined from 15.4% in 1998 to 13.9% in 1999. And in 2000, total CHIP enrollment reached 3,333,879, compared to 1,979,450 a year earlier. To enroll more eligible children, the federal government last year awarded $700,000 in grants for states to research outreach and enrollment strategies.
Insurance Market Reforms: According to the report findings, market reforms "remain an essential component in many states' efforts to reduce the uninsured," and a "few states have also pursued new market regulations and pooling initiatives in their attempts to help the small group and individual markets work more effectively for populations seeking coverage there." For example, "at least 10 states have developed small-group purchasing pools that allow these employers to band together to purchase insurance, and several other states are examining whether to pool such arrangements."
2001 State Agendas: To gauge state agendas for 2001, Academy researchers sent questionnaires to more than 100 officials in all 50 states. Officials in 26 states said health care and improving coverage and access "would surface in the upcoming legislative agendas." Almost every respondent said that a prescription drug benefit for seniors would be the top priority for states, followed by extending coverage to low-income children and their parents.
Looking ahead, the report calls for a "firm commitment" from state and federal officials to work towards solving health care problems. Affirming the importance of enacting reform on the state level, the report concludes: "Further progress in reducing the ranks of the uninsured will depend on the ongoing creativity of many states as they address this problem, learn from each other and explore new options (Alberga et. al., "State Coverage Initiatives," Jan. 2000). To download the full report, go to http://statecoverage.net/whatsnew.htm. Note: You will need Adode Acrobat Reader to download the report.
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