In January 2014, Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children formally submitted comments regarding Gov. Tom Corbett's "Healthy PA" proposal, offering six recommendations for revisions to the proposal based on PPC's public policy goals for children's health care in the commonwealth.
Nearly 148,000 Pennsylvania children – or about 1 in 20 - still lack health insurance, a statistic that has remained relatively unchanged in recent years despite the commonwealth's longstanding goal of providing "universal coverage" for all documented children. Ongoing discussions focused on providing health insurance coverage to more Pennsylvania adults could help accelerate efforts to cover more kids, given research shows insured parents are more likely to make sure their children are insured. But even among children who are insured, there are health care challenges that need to be overcome, according Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children's latest "State of Children's Health Care in Pennsylvania" report.
When the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court last year, the court left it to each state to decide whether Medicaid coverage should be extended to low-income adults earning up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL). In Pennsylvania, it is estimated that such an expansion of Medicaid could benefit at least 350,000 low-income, non-elderly adults. Expanding Medicaid coverage to more Pennsylvania adults also can help provide health insurance coverage to more children in the commonwealth.
Despite Pennsylvania’s status as a “universal coverage” state for children’s health insurance, there are still more than 153,000 Pennsylvania children who lack health insurance. As part of our ongoing commitment to monitor the status of children’s health care in the commonwealth, Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children will routinely tally statistics about children’s health care for nine geographic regions in Pennsylvania. These regional data reports will track the number of children who are insured through private insurance, Medicaid and CHIP, as well as the number of children who remain without health insurance coverage.
Pennsylvania needs to act quickly to establish a comprehensive, online marketplace so families can explore and compare health insurance options and purchase the best coverage for their children. If the commonwealth does not take action to meet a federal deadline for setting up this online resource – known as a “health insurance exchange” - the federal government will create the exchange for the commonwealth, meaning the input and expertise of Pennsylvania consumers, health care providers, insurers and policymakers could be overlooked. A high-quality, consumer-friendly exchange could help provide coverage to the more than 153,000 Pennsylvania children who still lack health insurance.
Healthy children are an essential part of a strong commonwealth. When Pennsylvania’s children have access to quality physical and behavioral health care that meets their needs, we all benefit. A critical goal of the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) is to increase access to health care for kids, but how do we know if this goal is being achieved? That’s the purpose of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children’s first-ever “State of Children’s Health Care in Pennsylvania” report. This report will provide an annual snapshot of children’s health care in the commonwealth – its successes, its limitations and its challenges toward improvement – by using various indicators that will allow us to see whether the ACA is having a tangible impact on children’s health care.
Pennsylvania has a strong history of providing health care coverage for its children, but this continuing commitment to children’s health care coverage now appears to be in question. In August 2011, the Department of Public Welfare began sending out hundreds of thousands of notices to families receiving Medicaid, allowing a 10-day response time to provide necessary documentation to remain enrolled in Medicaid. If DPW did not receive and process all requested paperwork within the 10-day deadline, the child’s Medicaid coverage was discontinued. As a result, many children have lost their Medicaid coverage. DPW’s own enrollment reports show the number of children enrolled in Medicaid dropped by more than 91,000 from August 2011 to June 2012. Yet as the number of children enrolled in Medicaid dropped dramatically, CHIP enrollment remained relatively stable, indicating many children were simply losing coverage.
Nearly 95 percent of Pennsylvania children have health insurance, a telling testament to the commonwealth’s long-term efforts to make health care coverage available to our youngest citizens. Yet there are still more than 100,000 Pennsylvania children lacking health insurance, and Pennsylvania’s leaders have a fiscal, societal and moral obligation to reduce those numbers. We know increasing the availability of children’s health insurance promotes preventive care, reduces emergency care, saves money and contributes to the collective well-being of our commonwealth.
The advent of federal health care reform gives Pennsylvania a powerful opportunity to strengthen its role as a national leader in providing health care coverage to children. In 2012, we will have a unique opportunity to build on our achievements through the establishment of the commonwealth’s health insurance exchange.
In December 2011, Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children issued a new report - Building on Our Success: Health Care Reform and Pennsylvania’s Children – that offers our guidance on how the health insurance exchange, as well as other aspects of the federal Affordable Care Act, can best benefit the commonwealth’s children. Our report outlines how Pennsylvania policymakers can best use all available resources to keep the commonwealth at the national forefront in providing affordable health insurance for children. The report also stresses the need to ensure children have the greatest possible access to all evidence-based health benefits, including behavioral health as well as physical health.
Discussions in Washington regarding the U.S. deficit and what steps need to be taken to achieve debt reduction have resulted in a variety of options being explored by the President and Congress. One option under consideration would be to finance the Medicaid program through block grants to states.
Today, Medicaid operates as an entitlement program with a federal-state partnership that provides health care coverage for all individuals who meet established eligibility requirements. This includes many children as well as aged and disabled individuals who require financial assistance to gain coverage in order to pay for necessary medical services. States are eligible to be reimbursed by the federal government for Medicaid expenditures. Pennsylvania receives reimbursement from the federal government for approximately 56 percent of actual state Medicaid costs.
Block grants often have been utilized by the federal government to provide large sums of money to states or other regional jurisdictions for certain programs or services, but without strict provisions for how such money should be spent. By transforming Medicaid from an entitlement program into a block grant, Congress effectively would cap the federal government’s financial contribution to Medicaid to states.
Home visiting programs recognize that parents are a child's first teachers, but sometimes even parents need help.
Pennsylvania is taking a significant step forward in helping these uninsured children and their families gain health care coverage.
One lesser known provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that takes effect Jan. 1, 2014, requires states to provide Medicaid coverage until age 26 for young people who have aged out of foster care.
An important provision of the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) that takes effect in January 2014 requires states to provide Medicaid coverage for young adults under age 26 who have aged out of foster care, but were in foster care and receiving Medicaid coverage at the time they turned 18.
As the nation moves ahead in providing access to affordable, quality health care coverage for everyone, Pennsylvania appears to be heading in reverse. From August 2011 through November 2012, the commonwealth saw the number of children collectively enrolled in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) drop by a staggering 100,179 kids.
It's been more than a year since we first started noticing a rapid drop in children's Medicaid enrollment caused by policy changes within the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare. Those changes created a more cumbersome bureaucratic process for maintaining Medicaid eligibility and left parents fighting a battle of extra paperwork to keep their kids covered.
Pennsylvania's longstanding reputation as a national leader in providing health care coverage for children is being threatened as children's Medicaid enrollment in the commonwealth continues to drop without any satisfactory explanation. Pennsylvania's Medicaid enrollment has declined by a staggering 91,400 children in just 10 months, and federal officials have begun asking for an explanation.
Despite the benefits of keeping kids insured, Pennsylvania - a state with universal health care for children - continues to remove children from Medicaid due to bureaucratic inefficiencies. More than 4,000 commonwealth children lost Medicaid coverage in April alone, and enrollment in Pennsylvania’s Children’s Health Insurance Program also decreased.
This week marks the second anniversary of the signing of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). While some facets of this landmark health care law don’t take effect until 2014, others aspects of PPACA already have begun benefiting Pennsylvania’s children and young adults. This edition of Faces & Facts looks at some of the benefits so far.
There is a growing concern over children’s health care in Pennsylvania. In recent months, actions taken by the Department of Public Welfare have resulted in nearly 89,000 fewer children enrolled in Medicaid, with no satisfactory explanation for such a drastic enrollment decline. There has been no corresponding increase in CHIP enrollment, indicating tens of thousands of Pennsylvania children who had health insurance just a few months ago now lack any health care coverage. This raises serious concern about what is happening to these children.
Pennsylvania has a strong history of helping our kids have insurance coverage. From the inception of CHIP nearly 20 years ago to the Cover All Kids expansion in 2006, state leaders from both political parties have recognized that children with health care coverage do better in school and are more likely to grow up to be healthy, productive citizens. That commitment is in jeopardy.
Children's health isn't just a family issue – it's a community issue. A child’s health can impact everything from school attendance to a parent's job performance. That is why hundreds of organizations, such as community-based groups, church groups and medical facilities, have stepped up to help Pennsylvanians apply for health and human service benefits by registering as COMPASS Community Partners.
Children’s health is important to their academic success, and health insurance is key to helping children remain healthy and do well in school. Children with health insurance are more likely to avoid preventable childhood illnesses and, in turn, generally have better school attendance. Studies indicate uninsured children are 25 percent more likely to miss school, while reading scores among children without health insurance doubled after health care coverage was provided.
Children who have health insurance are more likely to be immunized, receive regular check-ups and get prompt treatment for common childhood ailments, such as ear infections and asthma. Healthy kids are successful kids. They are more productive. They thrive in school.
Sure, health insurance is important in preventing and treating childhood illnesses and injuries. But did you know many behavioral health conditions such as childhood depression and anxiety disorders are covered under public health insurance, too? Behavioral health is an important component in the overall wellness of a child and enables the child to grow into a healthy, productive adult.
Pennsylvania Partnership for Children worked with a number of other health advocacy organizations to create a set of guiding principles to protect children in the development and implementation of health care reform in the state. The principles take into account the importance that all children receive the necessary physical health and behavioral health services they require in a quality fashion.