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States Promoted Broader Coverage for Children in 2007, But Report That a Declining Economy Coupled With Lack of SCHIP Reauthorization and New Federal Rules Now Compromise Efforts to Reduce the Number of Uninsured
Date:1/28/2008

WASHINGTON, Jan. 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- New reports released today by the Kaiser Family Foundation's Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured (KCMU) describe aggressive efforts by states in the past year and a half to expand coverage to low-income children and their families, but the actions may be curtailed as a deteriorating economic climate and new limits on federal assistance take effect.

A downturn in the economy, the federal failure to reauthorize the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) and new federal rules affecting Medicaid and SCHIP eligibility all suggest that the recent period of aggressive expansion of coverage by states may be over. This is the conclusion based on a series of new studies by the KCMU, including a 50-state survey of eligibility and enrollment rules in Medicaid and SCHIP for children and families, interviews with Medicaid directors in ten states representing all regions of the country, and recent studies of enrollment in Medicaid and SCHIP.

"State momentum to address the growing problem of the uninsured has run into a double whammy of a declining economy that is putting additional pressure on state budgets and funds for Medicaid and SCHIP and federal barriers to state expansions," said Diane Rowland, executive director of the Kaiser Family Foundation's Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured. "In the last recession, federal fiscal relief was critical to states' ability to sustain Medicaid enrollment. Without additional federal assistance for Medicaid and SCHIP in this economic downturn, we are likely to see added growth in the uninsured," she added.

Today's release of the seventh annual 50-state survey of eligibility rules, enrollment and renewal procedures, and cost-sharing practices in Medicaid and SCHIP for children and families, shows that nearly two-thirds (32) of states expanded access to their Medicaid and SCHIP programs between July 2006 and January 2008. However, without the
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SOURCE Kaiser Family Foundation
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