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20,000 Kansas poor children are without health insurance.


President Bush gave us a New Years present with the signing of the SCHIP legislation (Health Wave in Kansas). This legislation extended government subsidized health insurance for children in families with limited income through March 2009. Without this extension Kansas would have serious problems maintaining the Health Wave program. President Bush twice vetoed this legislation because Congress, controlled by Democrats, wanted to extend the program to more children. But that is not the story here.Kansas Action for Children reports that there are 20,000 children living below the poverty line without health insurance (http://www.kac.org/ftp/File/Publications/KC_datanotes2007.pdf). This is 39% of Kansas children without health insurance.A White House statement dated December 19, 2007 praised Congress for passing SCHIP legislation that President Bush could sign. This statement said that this is an "important program for America's low income children." There seems to be a contradiction here. What was debated was not health insurance for children living in families below the federal poverty level. Medicaid is the health insurance program for these children. SCHIP is for children in families above the poverty line. The debate was where to draw the line for eligibility. Should it be at 150% of poverty, 185% of poverty, 200% of poverty or higher?Why isn't Medicaid working for the 20,000 Kansas uninsured children living in poor families? There are many answers. For one, consider a single mother with one child living on less than $13,690 a year. That is the current poverty line for this family ($17,170 if she has 2 children). Incidentally, the US Census reports that more poor children live in married couple families but their challenges are similar. So mom needs to get to her job (81% of women heading poor households work according to the US Census), keep food on the table, take care of child care and, by the way, get to the SRS office and take care of Medicaid applications and requirements. This includes the issue of proving that you are a US Citizen. When did we last see those birth certificates?She needs help. More attention, both individually and collectively, needs to be given to these families and you can help.1.Statewide advocacy organizations need to focus on getting children in poor families enrolled in Medicaid.2.Local social service organizations need to advocate for these families and remove whatever barriers exist to Medicaid enrollment. 3.What about a house to house survey in poor neighborhoods that identifies poor families and provides assistance with enrolling in Medicaid?4.Friends and neighbors can volunteer to help enroll poor families5.Friends and neighbors can question local social service providers on their efforts to help poor families enroll in Medicaid or Health Wave.By the way, think about the economic benefit to the local community if the medical expenses of all poor families were covered by Medicaid rather than the local community through donations to organizations like Health Care Access.


Ronda Miller 10 years, 3 months ago

Great post! Our society is at a crisis for health insurance when it concerns low income families, and in particular single moms and their families, as well as mentally ill individuals (who also lack the ability to advocate for themselves and fill out appropriate paperwork).

I agree with the five items you list in respect to helping people within this dilemma, but would like to add an additional resource or two. Child care providers are now able to speak louder and with unity with the new union that has organized within the state of Kansas.

Any and all persons with an interest in helping single, poor, disadvantaged familes would do well to volunteer for this effort. Please step forward and voice your concerns.

By the way, Health Wave has helped many Kansas children receive quality medical care!


rocketmom67 10 years, 3 months ago

These are good points and necessary areas for work; however, there needs to be a growing concern over those working families whose incomes are above the Healthwave guidelines but cannot purchase health insurance. This is my family--single parent, college degree, decent job, child with diabetes and no insurance. I am running into more and more families in my situation--either insurance is not available or is priced so high there is no way to purchase it on a single salary. I am so thankful to Children's Mercy and the others who have donated supplies to us--essentially helping my child survive. A child without health coverage should be unheard of in our country!

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