Nevada Leads Nation in Cutting Rate of Uninsured Children

October 29, 2015

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Source: Las Vegas Review-Journal

Nevada saw the sharpest decline of any state in the rate of uninsured children from 2013 to 2014, according to a report released Wednesday.

However, the Silver State still remains among the five states with the highest uninsured rate in the country with a 9.6 percent, or 63,732 children, in 2014, the Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families’ report shows.

In 2013, the state had a rate of 14.9 percent, or about 98,509 uninsured children, the report says. That represents a 35 percent drop in uninsured children, and a 5.3 percent decrease in the rate, the largest percentage dip in all states.

“To see that much of a change in one year is extremely significant,” Denise Tanata Ashby, executive director for the Children’s Advocacy Alliance in Las Vegas, said Tuesday. “Are we still in the bottom five? Yes, we are. We have a long way to go. We have a large number of kids in the state who don’t have access, who are not insured.”

The Children’s Advocacy Alliance and the Nevada Institute for Children’s Research & Policy on Wednesday presented the report findings to a group of about two dozen child advocates at the Sunrise Children’s Foundation. The group applauded with excitement at the beginning of the event.

“For once, Nevada is doing good,” said Amanda Haboush-Deloye, chief research associate with the Nevada Institute for Children’s Research & Policy.

The number of uninsured children nationwide is estimated at nearly 4.4 million. The report used data from the 2013 and 2014 U.S. Census American Community Survey.

Other states that saw a large percentage drop in the rate of uninsured children from 2013 to 2014 included Colorado, 2.6 percent; West Virginia, 2.3 percent; Mississippi, 2.3 percent; and Rhode Island, 2.1 percent, according to the report.

The state with the highest rate of uninsured children in 2014 was Alaska at 11.4 percent, followed by Texas,11 percent; Arizona, 10 percent; Nevada, 9.6 percent; and Utah, 9.4 percent, according to the report.

It’s likely that not every child who remains uninsured in Nevada will gain coverage in coming years, but Tanata Ashby said the state might “continue to see a decline,” though “maybe not as sharp as we saw in 2014.”

She attributed part of the large decrease in 2014 to the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

“We still need to make sure that those numbers improve,” Tanata Ashby said.

Clark County ranked ninth among counties with the highest number of uninsured children at 47,679.

“We definitely have a lot of work to do in our state, but especially in Clark County,” Haboush-Deloye said.

Harris County, Texas, ranked first with 143,320 uninsured children, followed by Los Angeles County, 131,339, and Maricopa County, Ariz., 92,551.

Uninsured children nationwide are more likely to be school-aged, Hispanic, in a family with income just over the poverty line and living in rural areas, according to the report.

Tanata Ashby said that sometimes families who might be undocumented might have fear to seek services and coverage for their children. The Center for Children and Families will conduct another report looking at Hispanic children and their uninsured rate.

That report is expected to be released in December.

“There’s still disparities in coverage,” Haboush-Deloye said.

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