Who & Where are the Uninsured CHIP/Medicaid-Eligible Children?

Who and Where are the Children Yet to Enroll in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program?

Abstract:

Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of health and human services, has issued a challenge to enroll the millions of uninsured children eligible for public insurance in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). This paper provides estimates of the rates at which children in the various states participated in these programs in 2008 as well as the number who were eligible for them but uninsured. According to our coverage estimates, an estimated 7.3 million children were uninsured on an average day in 2008, of whom 4.7 million (65 percent) were eligible for Medicaid or CHIP but not enrolled. Participation rates varied across states from 55 percent to 95 percent, and ten states had participation rates close to or above 90 percent. Thirty-nine percent of eligible uninsured children (1.8 million) live in just three states—California, Texas, and Florida—and 61 percent (2.9 million) live in ten states. Meeting Secretary Sebelius’s challenge means achieving success in these populous states, in part through tools and resources available under the 2009 CHIP reauthorization law. Continue reading

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HB 1965 Would Expand Faith- & Community-Based Health & Human Services

Photo by eruditorum on Flickr

On April 19, the House passed HB 1965, a bill by Rep. Lois Kolkhorst (R- Brenham), Rep. Dan Branch (R-Dallas), and Rep. Elliott Naishtat (D-Austin, and a graduate of our own University of Texas MSW program.)

The bill would expand faith- and community-based health and human services initiatives in the state and also expand the number of agencies that are required to appoint an employee as a liaison for such organizations.

HB 1965 would implement findings from a task force created during the last legislative session that focused on strengthening nonprofit capacity and gathered feedback from nonprofit agencies around the state. Continue reading

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Will the TEXAS Grants Priority Model Widen the Education Gap?

Judith Zaffarini (D-Laredo) / DallasNews.com

Last Wednesday, the House passed SB 28, which would alter the way that TEXAS Grants allocates money to college students, giving priority access to those who demonstrate college readiness. TEXAS Grants, the state’s primary need-based financial aid program, has given more than $2 million to over 300,000 students since its founding in 1999. However, the current budget shortfall has left funding for the program in jeopardy (in fact, the recently passed House  budget would eliminate all funding for incoming students for at least the next two years.) SB 28 was authored by Senate Higher Education Chairwoman Judith Zaffirini, (D-Laredo), though the primary opposition to the bill has come from her own party.

The Texas Tribune reports:

Currently, the grants, which cover tuition at most public universities, are awarded on a first come, first served basis to students who meet the financial need criteria. Zaffirini’s bill, Senate Bill 28, would create a priority model to allow high-achieving students to jump to the front of the line… To prove college readiness, students must meet two of four standards: showing academic readiness by enrolling in the distinguished academic program or taking 12 hours of college credit; passing tests in the Texas Success Initiative Act, the SAT or ACT; ranking in the top third of their high school class; and being successful in math beyond algebra II.

Now that the bill has passed both the Senate and House, it only needs to be signed by Governor Perry before it becomes a law. Personally, I side with the opposition on this one. If TEXAS Grants has any funding to speak of for students in the next two years, under this model, grants will almost certainly only go to students who meet these specific standards for college readiness. As Rep. Garnet Coleman (D-Houston) pointed out, “We don’t want to lose the best people because they don’t fit into the box created.” Coleman proposed an amendment that would require students to write a personal statement and interview to receive a grant in order to add flexibility for students with other talents, not just academic standards.  Continue reading

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Daycare or Dropout? HB 818 Would Benefit Teen Parents

Photo by Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot

Representatives Donna Howard and Dawnna Dukes filed HB 818 on 01/24/2011 proposing the use of education funding to provide assistance with day care to students at risk of dropping out of school. As of 4/21/11 the bill is out of House committee on Public Education with a vote of 6 Ayes, 0 Nays, 0 Present Not Voting and 5 Absent. The proposed bill is a straightforward one-pager. Compensatory education allotment funds may be used to:

1. provide child-care services or assistance with child-care expenses for students at risk of dropping out of school, as defined by Section 29.081(d) (5); or

2. pay the costs of day care or associated transportation provided through a life skills program in accordance with Sections 29.085 (b) (3), (4), and (5).

This bill hit close to home for me because I am currently an intern for the Round Rock ISD Teen Parent Program. My clients are pregnant and parenting teens that benefit or will benefit from having child care. Many of the parenting students greatly value and appreciate the day care services provided to them. Since most of the teen parents come from single family households they do not have alternative options for child care while they are in school. Continue reading

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Latino Teen Pregnancy in Texas: Evaluating Impact and Prevention

Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

This post is a description and discussion (including key excerpts/highlights) of a study on Latino teen pregnancy in Texas, released in 2010 by Susan Tortolero, Belinda Hernandez, Paula Cuccaro, Melissa Peskin, Christine Markham, and Ross Shegog of the Center for Health Promotion and Prevention Research at the University of Teas Health Science Center in Houston. The article, “Latino Teen Pregnancy in Texas: Prevalence, Prevention, and Policy,” was published in the Journal of Applied Research on Children: Informing Policy for Children at Risk.

Abstract:

Texas is home to over one million Latino teens who are at risk for negative reproductive health outcomes, such as teen pregnancy and STIs. Teen pregnancy disproportionately impacts the health of Latino teens in Texas and places them at risk of continued high rates of poverty, school dropout, and unemployment unless Texas makes a concerted effort to reduce its teen pregnancy rate. The birth rate among Latina girls is astonishing: 98 per 1000 Latinas (aged 15-19) are giving birth. This translates to over 32,000 births each year among Latina teens, costing almost $98 million in direct medical expenditures and well over $638 million if other costs are included. Most teens become sexually experienced while they are of school age, which translates to an estimated 414,583 sexually experienced Latino students attending Texas public schools. Of these Latino youth, 237,466 report being currently sexually active, and 89,000 report having had four or more sexual partners in their lifetime. While causes of teen pregnancy are complex, the solutions to teen pregnancy are known. Texas needs an effective, comprehensive approach to address the sexual health needs of Texas Latino youth that includes: statewide implementation and monitoring of evidence-based sex education for middle school and high school students, access to reproductive health services for students who are already sexually experienced, and widespread training on adolescent sexual health for teachers, service providers, and parents. By tackling teen pregnancy, we can positively impact the future and well-being of not only Latinos, but of all Texans, and subsequently can contribute to the social and economic success of Texas.

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Lighting Up May Fund CHIP with SB 1052

Photo by Graur Codrin

Senator Rodney Ellis, author of Senate Bill 1052, proposes an increase on the cigarette tax in order to add funds to CHIP. The bill was filed 03/02/11 and has been referred to the Finance Committee on 03/16/11. The bill is mostly confusing in the way it describes the increase in tax on cigarettes by weight.

All proceeds from the collection of taxes attributable to the portion of the tax rate in excess of $70.50 per thousand on cigarettes, regardless of weight, shall be deposited to the credit of the children’s health insurance program account in the general revenue fund and may be appropriated only to the Health and Human Services Commission for the child health plan program under Chapter 62, Health and Safety Code.

This bill explicitly states that the funds can only go toward funding CHIP but how much will the cigarette tax go up for Texas smokers? Continue reading

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Texas Public Policy Foundation on Medicaid Reform

The Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) is a non-profit, non-partisan research institute. The Foundation’s mission is to promote and defend liberty, personal responsibility, and free enterprise in Texas and the nation by education and affecting policymakers and the Texas public policy debate with academically sound research and outreach.

In February 2011, TPPF published Medicaid Reform: Constructive Alternatives to a Failed Program , a report on Texas Medicaid and a proposed new way to address healthcare for low-income individuals. HB 13 written by Kolkhorst proposes the use of federal funding to be utilized in developing the new program, TexHealth, as an alternative to Medicaid.

The goal is to:

1. subsidize the cost of private health care

2. provide enrollees a choice in determining a health care plan to fit their circumstance

3. encourage enrollees to manage their own health care

4. reduce overall expenditures

This report begins by discussing the basics of Medicaid–how it is funded, who benefits, the history, and includes statistics on the constant increase in enrollees over time. Continue reading

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