Mississippi making progress in reducing uninsured rates for children

October 23, 2012

-Still more than 60,000 children who lack health insurance statewide

-Research shows that covering parents helps children get coverage

(Jackson, Miss.) – The United States made meaningful progress in reducing the rate of uninsured children, according to a new report by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families.  Mississippi also made progress in reducing uninsured rates – but with more than 60,000 children statewide who lack health insurance coverage, there is still a long way to go.

Between 2009 and 2011, Mississippi reduced the rate more than 2 percentage points, from over 10 percent to 8.1 percent in the two-year period. State community-based organizations and schools contributed to this progress by elevating outreach and education efforts to connect more eligible children to health care programs, such as Medicaid and CHIP.

“Children need health care coverage to grow and thrive so this is good news for Mississippi kids and the state’s future,” said Joan Alker, Co-Executive Director of the Georgetown University research center.

Despite progress, Mississippi was in the bottom half of states (36th) in uninsured children rates.  Next year will be a watershed moment for Mississippi’s children and families as the state’s leaders decide whether or not to accept federal funding to extend health coverage to low-income adults through Medicaid, and determine whether or not being insured will become the new normal for our state’s families.

Research shows that covering health insurance for parents also means that more eligible children will enroll and get health coverage, which can help boost these numbers in the future. “Covering parents is great for kids,” said Linda Rigsby, health law director, Mississippi Center for Justice.  “When parents have health insurance coverage, children are more likely to receive the preventive care and other healthcare services they need.”

“Covering more kids is a step in the right direction, and we are pleased with the work that community- and school-based programs are doing across the state, however there is still significant work to be done to ensure that all of our state’s citizens have quality healthcare coverage – Medicaid expansion for Mississippi would be a big step in the right direction,” Rigsby added.

The full report is available online.

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Mississippi Center for Justice, Children’s Defense Fund and Mississippi Human Services Coalition partner to serve as Mississippi KidsWell, a collaborative effort to improve health among children across Mississippi. Representatives from these organizations are available for media interviews regarding this new study.