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UNC study: Access to state children's health insurance programs vital to disabled children
Date:1/22/2009

CHAPEL HILL The proposed federal expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program should help improve disabled children's access to services, but more needs to be done at the state level to meet their needs, according to a new study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Susan Parish, an assistant professor at the UNC School of Social Work and the study's lead author, found that families raising children with disabilities are particularly struggling to get services in states where qualifications for the public health insurance program widely known as "SCHIP" are less generous, meaning that they earn too much to qualify for the insurance program based on their state's income limits.

According to the research, this includes families whose household income is less than three times the poverty level.

Others less likely to receive needed support services include parents who speak limited English, children who are uninsured and children with severe impairments.

Nationwide, some 12 million children have special health care needs, said Parish, who has conducted extensive research on children with disabilities and their families.

"The evidence is compelling and overwhelmingly confirms the need to expand and strengthen health insurance coverage for children with disabilities and their families," she said. "Without assistance, families face high out-of-pocket costs. The tangible support provided by the SCHIP program materially influences the supports a family receives."

The findings coincide with moves by Congress to approve a bill that would add more than $30 billion over almost five years to the public health insurance program. If the measure is approved and signed into law by President Obama, coverage would expand to more than 10 million children, including many with disabilities who are now ineligible.

However, what isn't clear is how the proposed SCHIP expansion would affec
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Contact: Patric Lane
patric_lane@unc.edu
919-962-8596
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Source:Eurekalert

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