The Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire reported an increase in reliance on public health coverage for children and a “warning” about the results of a Congressional plan to reduce funding to these programs on July 27, 2011.
The increase in public health care use is attributed to loss of jobs, decreased coverage of private plans, and increased access to public health care particularly in rural and inner city communities.
Birmingham qualifies in many respects. Unemployment has increased in July, Blue Cross raised rates and reduced coverage beginning in June, and a significant part of Birmingham can qualify as “inner city.” Jefferson County s in the midst of declaring bankruptcy.
The report addresses the fact that the U. S. Congress has plans to cut these programs “on the table” as a part of the deadlocked consideration of budget balancing. This will never occur.
In the odd event that the U.S. Congress can make a decision to reduce Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) funding with federal dollars the loss must be picked up by the state taxpayer. That means another round of private insurance rate increases and more small businesses dropping health care as a benefit. More physicians will opt to not treat Medicaid patients because the payment for service is less than the cost and being a doctor means making a profit.
The report documents the following:
Health insurance coverage among children increased 1.3 percentage points from 2008 to 2009 in the United States, with the most growth in central cities and rural areas.
The Northeast continues to have the highest rate of coverage, with more than 95 percent of children covered. The South has the lowest coverage rates, at 89 percent.
Forty-four states plus Washington, DC and Puerto Rico had a significant increase in the number of children covered by public health insurance.
Twenty-seven states saw a decrease in private health insurance coverage for children.
Children in Midwestern central cities experienced the largest shift from private to public insurers in 2009; private insurance coverage fell 4.3 percentage points, while public coverage rose by 6.5 percentage points.
One alternative would be to reduce the ability of private insurance, physicians, and pharmaceutical companies to lobby Congress and contribute to presidential and congressional campaigns.
The information as reviewed at the Eureka Alert web site on July 27, 2011.