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Despite 'Universal Coverage,' Commonwealth Still Has 139,000 Uninsured Kids.

Despite offering universal health care coverage for all documented children, Pennsylvania continues to fall short in its effort to reach tens of thousands of children who are uninsured, according to a report released today by Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children and Georgetown University's Center for Children and Families.

The uninsured rate for Pennsylvania children declined only slightly to 5.2 percent in 2014, down from 5.4 in 2013, the report finds. Based on the percentage of uninsured children, the state slipped from 17th best in the nation for covering children to 23rd as gains in other states outpaced Pennsylvania's. In all, Pennsylvania had 139,117 uninsured children last year.

"For a state that offers universal coverage for all documented children, Pennsylvania should be leading the nation in covering the uninsured rather than falling further back in the rankings," said PPC President and CEO Joan Benso. "These latest numbers show there is more work to be done in the commonwealth to ensure all Pennsylvania children have the health care they need to grow and thrive."

Nearly all of Pennsylvania's neighboring states saw more significant progress in reaching uninsured kids, including West Virginia (2.3 percentage point decline), Maryland (1.3 percentage point decline), New Jersey (1.0 percentage point decline), New York (0.8 percentage point decline) and Ohio (0.6 percentage point decline) compared to Pennsylvania (0.3 percentage point decline).

On an encouraging note, the report shows states that have expanded Medicaid have experienced greater progress in reaching uninsured children. With Pennsylvania's recent expansion of Medicaid, the commonwealth could see the number of uninsured children decline further when 2015 data is completed.

Quality health coverage is essential to a child's healthy development and success. When it comes to setting up a child for reaching his or her fullest potential, few things matter more than good health. When children's health needs are met, they are better able to learn in school and parents miss fewer days of work.

"Pennsylvania should look to the best practices of other states in outreach and policy simplifications," said Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families. "The state has a proud tradition of covering kids, but there is work to be done to maintain that legacy."

Families who would like help enrolling their children in CHIP or Medicaid can learn more by visiting the commonwealth's COMPASS website.

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