UNINSURED CHILDREN: 1997 CHIP Figures Indicate Big Task
Eleven million U.S. children went without health insurance in 1997, according to a new state-by-state analysis by the American Hospital Association. Based on information collected in the U.S. Census Bureau's March 1998 survey, the analysis found that the number of uninsured children topped 20% in six states: New Mexico (20.1%); Florida (20.3%); Louisiana (21.3%); Texas (24.9%); Arizona (27.4%); and Arkansas (27.4%). By contrast, five states had percentages of uninsured children below 7.6%: Wisconsin (4.6%); Hawaii (5.1%); Vermont (5.4%); Minnesota (7.5%); and Washington (7.5%). The release of the report coincides with National Hospital week May 9-15, during which the AHA will provide hospitals with Insure Kids Now campaign posters featuring the 1-877-Kids Now number (AHA release, 5/10).
Congress should not reclaim unused allocations to the Children's Health Insurance Program and redirect those funds "before the program has a chance to get its footing," says an editorial in Tuesday's Las Vegas Sun. Pointing to a New York Times article last weekend that said only $260 million of Congress' $4.2 billion allocation was used in 1998, the piece concedes that some states, including Nevada, are to blame for "the program getting off to a slow start." Although Nevada has enrolled only 10,000 of an estimated 60,000 eligible children in Nevada Check Up, the state "faced hurdles not of [its] own making," including crafting eligibility requirements and application forms. "Nevada apparently has learned from its earlier missteps," the piece concludes, and "Congress shouldn't give up so quickly on this federal-state partnership that has great potential" (5/11).