Number Of Uninsured Children In South Carolina Continues To Climb
The report, based on new Census Bureau data, shows that the number of uninsured children continues to grow in the state. The most recent data are for the three-year period 2005-2007 and therefore do not reflect the worsening economic situation in 2008.
The Families USA report, titled "Left Behind: South Carolina's Uninsured Children," spotlights the following facts about uninsured children in the state:
- 132,000 children are uninsured in South Carolina-more than one of out nine, or 12.2 percent of South Carolina's children. Those numbers place South Carolina 13th nationally for the percentage of children in the state without health insurance.
- The number of uninsured children in South Carolina increased by 29,400, or 28.7 percent, between the three-year period 2003-2005 and the three-year period 2005-2007, and is likely to continue to grow due to the financial crisis.
- South Carolina's uninsured children come from working families. In South Carolina the vast majority of uninsured children (88.5 percent) come from families where at least one parent works, and more than three-quarters of uninsured children-or 79.2 percent-live in households where at least one family member works full-time, year-round.
- Over half, or 57.9 percent, of South Carolina's uninsured children come from low-income families (families with incomes below twice the poverty level, or $35,200 for a family of three in 2008) who are likely eligible for Medicaid or CHIP.
Last year, the Congress voted to reauthorize the State Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which would have expanded health coverage throughout the nation to approximately 4 million uninsured children. Although Congress passed the legislation with broad bipartisan support, the legislation failed when President Bush vetoed it.
"The children's health legislation vetoed by the President would have provided much-needed relief to uninsured children in South Carolina and across the nation," said Ron Pollack, Executive Director of Families USA. "Unfortunately, the minority of congressional members who voted with the President made it impossible to override the veto."
The CHIP program is now scheduled to expire on March 31, 2009. As a result, the reauthorization of CHIP will be one of the earliest policy issues facing the next Congress and President.
In 2007, more than 59,900 children in South Carolina received their health coverage through CHIP.
"For the numerous children in South Carolina who count on CHIP as their health lifeline, and for the 132,000 uninsured children in the state, support for continuing and expanding CHIP is critically important," said Pollack. "It will determine whether children get the preventive care they need so that they can remain healthy, learn in school, and become productive citizens."
Due to the current economic downturn, Congress is also likely to consider providing higher federal matching funds to the states for the Medicaid program-the other key health safety net program for children from low-income families. Such a measure may be part of the next economic stimulus package debated in Congress, thereby enabling states to retain and expand health coverage as more families become uninsured.
"The provision of increased federal matching funds to the states for Medicaid is of growing importance," said Pollack. "States need to expand health coverage at a time when their budgets are increasingly precarious, so increased federal help is essential."
Families USA is the national organization for health care consumers. It is nonprofit and nonpartisan and advocates for high-quality, affordable health care for all Americans.
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