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Kansas versus Iowa
As we begin football season that morphs into basketball season I recall that last year the pigskin Jayhawks beat Iowa State by a score of 54 to 17 and that Self's guys beat them here and there. But Iowa is beating Kansas in the race to provide health insurance to low income children.The latest census report on poverty and health insurance includes information on the percentage of uninsured children by state. I was amazed to find that 20 states have a lower percentage of uninsured low income children than Kansas. Then I saw that our sister state of Iowa beat us with only 2.9% of their children living in households at or below 200% of poverty not having health insurance while the rate in Kansas was 5.2%. These may not seem like large percentages but this represents 39,000 uninsured low income children in Kansas while Iowa had only 21,000. I am focusing on Iowa because it is the state that is most like Kansas. The census report shows Iowa as having a population of 743,000 children under 19 while Kansas has 747,000. That is really close. So what accounts for the difference?First, the Iowa legislature passed a declaration of intent stating the goal that all children in the state have health care coverage which meets certain standards of quality and affordability. Second, Iowa disregards 20% of earned income before they calculate income eligibility. This means that a family of four with an earned income up to $53,000 is eligible for state subsidized health insurance for its children while in Kansas the limit is $41,300 (200% of the poverty). In addition, an Iowa family of 4 with an income less than $35,750 pays no premium while in Kansas the limit is $30,975. Above that a modest monthly premium applies in both states. Third, and perhaps most important, Iowa has an outreach program to get children enrolled. There is a person in each county designated as the outreach coordinator whose job is to get children enrolled. You can go to a state map and click on a county and find the name, email address and phone number of the person responsible for outreach (http://www.hawk-i.org/en_US/outreach.html). Kansas does not have such a program. Imagine how many more Kansas children could have health insurance coverage if we had an outreach program. This is not just a children's health issue. Imagine the financial help to our community. Each year Health Care Access, Heartland Medical Clinic and the hospital emergency room provide medical care to the uninsured. What a help it would be to have more children insured.Certainly Kansas can beat Iowa in providing health insurance to low income children.