Report finds need of $335 million for uninsured kids

Group says additional funds would boost Kansas economy

? Kansas could get $335 million in new money for uninsured children if Congress increases funding for a federal children’s health care insurance program, according to a report released Thursday by a consumer health advocacy group.

The study from Families USA, a group that promotes universal health care coverage, said the funds would help Kansas expand health coverage for the 49,462 uninsured children in the state.

Two-thirds of them are currently eligible for HealthWave, the state’s health insurance program for needy children.

Democrats want to boost spending for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, or S-CHIP, by $50 billion during the next five years. The House and Senate are expected to vote on the proposal later this year.

The report said that in addition to helping uninsured children, more money for the program will boost the Kansas economy by attracting $144.8 million in increased business activity, $50.7 million in increased wages and 1,759 new jobs.

Families USA based its projections on data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. It’s also predicated on the current S-CHIP allocation formula and Medicaid expenditures for children.

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said he has urged his colleagues on the Senate Finance Committee to make reauthorization of the S-CHIP program a top priority.

“In order to grow the success of the S-CHIP program, it is essential to provide additional funding,” Roberts said in a statement.

The program will expire this year unless Congress renews it before Sept. 30. The program, which began in 1998, targets children whose families earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford private insurance.

Kansas receives $2.60 for every dollar it spends on the S-CHIP portion of HealthWave. This matching formula is more generous than the matching formula provided to Kansas under the Medicaid program.

“You’d better believe I’ll fight every step of the way for renewal,” Rep. Nancy Boyda, D-Kan., said in a statement. “We cannot sit by as millions of American children lose access to high-quality health care.”