Report: Pa. has 8th highest number of uninsured kids in the nation | Tuesday Morning Coffee

November 17, 2020 7:09 am

(Pa. Partnerships for Children, photo)

Good Tuesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
It’s never easy being a kid, especially one who’s economically disadvantaged. But those challenges multiply during a pandemic, upending daily routines and imposing new economic and health (both mental and physical) hardships.

new report by the advocacy group Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children outlines some of those challenges, even as it sketches out policy remedies for state lawmakers and the Democratic Wolf administration.

“Too many children are uninsured in Pennsylvania, and some who have health insurance aren’t accessing regular, preventive care, immunizations, or screenings and assessments for charting growth and reaching developmental milestones,” the report’s authors write. “Child health care advocates, medical professionals and policymakers, working together, can give Pennsylvania children the key to help them thrive, leading to achieving life-long learning and future success.”

It continues: 

” … For many years, Pennsylvania along with the rest of the country was on a positive track, with the uninsured rate for children consistently shrinking as more children were connected to health insurance, particularly through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP),” the report’s authors write. “As noted in last year’s report, the decade of significant progress insuring children nationwide had started to slip backwards. Now, for the second straight year, more kids have lost their health insurance – and most concerning is this data was captured prior to the current COVID-19 pandemic, meaning more kids headed into the public health emergency without basic health coverage.”

Below, some of the top-line findings of that report and the policy recommendations it offers to solve them.

(Pa. Partnerships for Children, image)

First up, the big takeaways from the report:

  • “Pennsylvania has the 8th highest number of uninsured kids in the nation with nearly 128,000 children who do not have health insurance, and ultimately do not have regular access to care for optimal development and learning.
  • “Since last year’s report, Pennsylvania’s uninsured rate increased slightly from 4.4 percent to 4.6 percent.
  • “Hispanic/Latino children’s uninsured rates decreased this year, falling from 4.9 percent to 4.7 percent;
  • “Children living in low-income families are more likely to be uninsured, at a rate 41% higher than the statewide uninsured rate;
  • “Asian children, whose population is more than 101,000 children in Pennsylvania, saw a statistically significant increase in their uninsured rate;
  • “Majority of counties with the highest uninsured rates are rural.
  • “840,000 Pennsylvanians have gained access to health coverage because of the [Affordable Care Act]. The Urban Institute recently projected that more than 21 million Americans will be newly uninsured in 2022, including 1.7 million children, if the ACA is overturned. In Pennsylvania, 77,000 children under age 19, would become uninsured losing the coverage they need to grow up healthy and succeed in life,” the report’s authors found.
(Pa. Partnerships for Children, image)

And the policy solutions it recommends:

  • Increasing the number of kids with health insurance, which includes focusing on the children who are the most likely to be uninsured and to increase outreach to those underserved populations;
  • Maintaining the strength of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act;
  • Improving maternal healthcare services and access to those services,
  • And making sure kids who are on Medicaid receive well-child visits and other care and screenings, including immunizations.

“Children who have health insurance are more likely to see a doctor on a regular basis or when symptoms develop. Because children with health insurance are more likely to avoid preventable childhood illnesses, they generally have better school attendance and better school performance than children without health insurance,” the report concludes. “And we all benefit when our children are healthy and can contribute to our communities.”

Pennsylvania State Capitol Building. (Capital-Star photo by Cassie Miller.)

Our Stuff.
The state Senate voted against reappointing Pennsylvania Victim Advocate Jennifer Storm to a full-term. Some have seen the vote as political payback for Storm, who has alienated both Republicans and criminal justice reform advocates. Elizabeth Hardison has the story.

Pennsylvania is seeing significant community spread as the fall COVID-19 resurgence continues, Cassie Miller reports.

Philadelphia announced a temporary ban on indoor gatherings and broadened its virus rules on Monday. Mayor Jim Kenney isn’t ruling out a full shutdown, our partners at the Philadelphia Tribune report.

The FBI has branded Pittsburgh a new hub for white supremacists. But the region has a long and lamentable history of it, our partners at Pittsburgh City Paper report.

The Trump campaign has dropped one of its key legal arguments for election fraud ahead of a hearing in U.S. District court today, your humble newsletter author can report.

Philadelphia will observe the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance this Nov. 20. The day is intended to both celebrate transgender Pennsylvanians and to remember the transgender people who have tragically lost their lives in the last year. Our partners at the Philadelphia Gay News have what you need to know.

On our Commentary Page this morning: Marc Stier of the Pennsylvania Budget & Policy Center calls on Gov. Tom Wolf and the Legislature to pass a short-term budget that delivers help to working families contending with the pandemic recessionTwo advocates from Community Legal Services of Philadelphia argue for reforms to the state’s Child Abuse Registry, where a wrongful placement can do real damage to a person’s employment prospects — and especially to Black and Brown Pennsylvanians.  And opinion regular Simon F. Haeder, of Penn State University, points out seven things that President-elect Joe Biden can do to improve the state of healthcare.

)Photo via pxHere)

Schools across the Philadelphia region are switching to remote learning as COVID-19 cases spike, the Inquirer reports.
Highmark’s CEO, the Pa. health insurance behemoth, is now making $8.15 million, triple to what he made in 2016, the Tribune-Review reports.
Penn State is finishing up its fall semester, but the challenges of the pandemic haven’t gone anywherePennLive reports (paywall).
Hearings on Pennsylvania’s elections are unlikely this year, with House Republicans eyeing up 2021 to conduct them, the Morning Call reports.
Schools across Luzerne County also are moving online with COVID-19 cases spiking, the Citizens-Voice reports.

Here’s your #Philadelphia Instagram of the Day:

Small businesses in Philadelphia talk to WHYY-FM about how they’re bracing for new COVID-19 restrictions in the city.
With their bottom lines already battered by the pandemic, county governments are dipping into public funds to defend against Trump campaign lawsuits, WITF-FM reports.
An overwhelmed Erie County Health Department is asking COVID-19 patients to conduct their own contact tracing, GoErie reports.
Candidates are already lining up to run for mayor in Allentown, PoliticsPA reports. runs down the Republican lawsuits restricting some executive actions on the pandemic.
Georgia’s secretary of state says U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.pressured him to toss legal ballotsTalking Points Memo reports.
Student loan debt is immoralNYMag’s Intelligencer argues rather persuasively.

What Goes On.
The House has a non-voting session scheduled for 11 a.m. The Senate comes in at 1 p.m.
Here’s a look at the House’s committee schedule:
9 a.m., G50 Irvis: House Human Services Committee
1 p.m., G50 Irvis: House Health Committee
3 p.m., G50 Irvis: House Environmental Resources & Energy Committee

There’s no COVID-19 briefing on the docket for right now — but that could be subject to change.

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s one from The I Don’t Cares to get your Tuesday morning off to a jangly start. It’s ‘Wear Me Out Loud.’

Tuesday’s Gratuitous Soccer Link.
Writing in The GuardianJonathan Liew takes aim at the Mail on Sunday for going after Manchester United star Marcus Rashford for owning some expensive investment properties, even as he admirably crusades to make sure hungry kids are fed in the U.K. The story was an attack on a successful young Black man, he argues. We agree.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.