A child advocacy group is urging Nebraskans to get active in the growing debate over health care to push federal leaders into making changes that benefit kids. Lawrence McAndrews, president and CEO of the National Association of Children’s Hospitals, says the website, SpeakNowForKids.org, is an open forum for parents, family members, health care providers and others.
McAndrews says, “They can voice their own thoughts and ideas about what children need and what their experience has been in health reform so that their legislators can hear their voice, hear their thoughts, hear their concerns about how health care reform should take place.” He says the latest report finds about nine-percent of Nebraska children are uninsured, compared to 11-point-two percent nationally. Nebraska’s in decent shape, he says, but further improvements are still needed.
He says momentum is building with the new administration in Washington for significant health care reform. “My sense is, something’s going to happen and it’s going to shape the foundation for the delivery of health care for the next ten or 15, 20, maybe 50 years,” McAndrews says. “The country is ready for it and the unique set of circumstances, with the election and with the leadership in congress, we are going to see some changes and those changes should be good for kids.”
The nation’s economic downturn of the past several months has only made the situation worse for children’s health, he says, since when an adult is fired and loses health care coverage, often, so do their kids. “With every one percent increase in unemployment, and unemployment has doubled to eight or nine or ten percent, there are a million more individuals eligible for Medicaid and S-CHIP,” McAndrews says. “That’s a tremendous increased number of kids that don’t have health insurance.”
He says children in these families are more likely to lack a regular source of health care and are at greater risk of hospitalization for preventable conditions.
According to studies, even children who have insurance receive only 68-percent of the recommended care for acute medical problems, 53-percent of recommended care for chronic medical conditions, and 41-percent of recommended preventive care. Children with asthma receive only 46-percent of the care they need.