||November 25, 2008
Dave Lemmon, Director of Communications
Bob Meissner, Deputy Director of Communications
Bryan Fisher, Press Secretary
U.S. Has 8.6 Million Uninsured Children and the Economic Downturn Is Likely to Drive the Number Higher
New Families USA Report with State Specific Information Highlights That More than One Child in Nine is Uninsured
Washington, D.C.—There are 8.6 million uninsured children in the United States, according to a new report released today by Families USA, the national organization for health care consumers.
The report, based on new Census Bureau data, reflects the three-year period 2005-2007 and therefore does not reflect the worsening economic situation in 2008.
The Families USA report, titled "Left Behind: America's Uninsured Children," spotlights the following facts about the 8.6 million uninsured children in the United States:
- One in nine children in America is uninsured.
- Uninsured children come from working families. The vast majority of uninsured children (88.2 percent) come from families where at least one parent works, and more than two-thirds of uninsured children—or 68.5 percent—live in households where at least one family member works full-time, year-round.
- More than half, or 60.4 percent, of the nation'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.
- The five states with the largest number of uninsured children are Texas, California, Florida, New York, and Georgia. Together, the uninsured children in these five states account for nearly half of all uninsured children in the country (48.3 percent).
- The five states with the highest rates of uninsured children are Texas, Florida, New Mexico, Arizona, and Nevada. More than 15 percent of children in each of these states are uninsured, compared to a national median of 9.2 percent.
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 across the nation,” said Ron Pollack, Executive Director of Families USA. 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.
"For the numerous children who count on CHIP as their health lifeline and for the 8.6 million children who are uninsured, 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.
"As state budgets are becoming increasingly precarious due to the looming recession, this is exactly the time that states need an increase in funding,” said Pollack. “This measure would help not only those already uninsured but those who are likely to join the ranks of the uninsured due to the state of the economy.”
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.
1201 New York Avenue NW, Suite 1100 · Washington, DC 20005
202-628-3030 · Email: firstname.lastname@example.org · www.familiesusa.org