States expanding coverage despite recession

The recession has savaged state budgets, there's no question about that. Nonetheless, it seems states are plunging ahead with changes making it easier for parents, pregnant women and children from low-income households to obtain health coverage, according to a new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

These expansions were financed largely by federal stimulus dollars, which will be tapped out by the end of next year. But states have also been helped by the federal reauthorization of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) last year, which not only has helped them expand eligibility, but also has given them funds to find uninsured children.

What's interesting, researchers said, is that there seemed to be a lot of momentum among state governments to expand coverage for children, going beyond even previous years when the economy hadn't hit the skids. Nineteen states made it easier to enroll kids in Medicaid or CHIP last year, increasing eligibility, making enrollment simpler and eliminating premiums.

On the other hand, 14 states raised CHIP premiums, with one--Arizona--doubling premiums per month. The truth is, states are trying hard but facing huge obstacles in getting kids covered, researchers said.

Get more background on this research:
- read this Kaiser Health News piece
- read the report (.pdf)

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