Making the top 5 in a national ranking is usually a good thing. But in this case…..it’s not.
Arizona has the third highest rate of uninsured hispanic children among states with the largest hispanic populations. That comes from a new report that suggests our state was one of four states in 2014 with uninsured rates “significantly higher” than the national average of 9.7 percent, at 12.7 percent.
The report said one factor behind Arizona’s relatively high rate may be its 2010 decision to freeze enrollment in KidsCare, the state’s children’s health insurance program, or CHIP. Arizona is the only state without an active CHIP program.
“In effect, this enrollment freeze limited eligibility for children in Medicaid to 152 percent of the FPL (federal poverty level), the lowest income eligibility level in the country,” the report stated.
Below are the states with the highest percentage of Hispanics under 18 without health coverage:
- Georgia: 15.3 percent
- Texas: 15.3 percent
- Arizona: 12.7 percent
- Florida: 12.1 percent
- North Carolina: 10.5 percent
National average: 9.7 percent
Joe Fu, the director of health policy at Children’s Action Alliance in Arizona, was quoted in a Cronkite News story as saying he believes the lack of a CHIP program is a key reason that so many hispanic children remain uninsured.
“Without that program, we have seen that Arizona lags behind its neighboring and peer states in its ability to protect children’s health,” Fu said.
According to a story on KTAR News, “Arizona’s ranking came despite the fact that the state did well in terms of gains for the number of Hispanics under age 18 with health care coverage: Uninsured kids in the state fell 2.4 percentage points between 2013 and 2014, the fifth-best increase in the country.”
So, it appears our state is making some progress – but we still have a lot of work to do. At a time of year when so many of us are talking about resolutions, perhaps we can resolve to find new ways to solve this latest challenge….which will take us another step closer to our goal of making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!