Health Care Access: Children who are Sick Can’t Succeed
Good health is the foundation for children to grow and learn. Proper nutrition, preventative medicine and the access to medical professionals when sick are critical to helping children develop and thrive.
Programs are available to provide free and low-cost health services for children and families in need. Services like maternal and infant programs, Kidcare, dental care and Medicaid keep low-income children and families out of expensive emergency rooms for issues preventable with regular medical care. These programs also help keep the family well, while identifying medical issues early on- leading to quicker resolutions and better outcomes.
Unfortunately, Florida does not take full advantage of the available programs. The state ranks 49th in children with health insurance, with nearly 378,000 uninsured children. It is estimated that the state will lose $66.1 billion in federal funding over the course of ten years (2013-2022) by not taking advantage of Medicaid expansion. Failure to expand Medicaid does not mean Florida tax payers don’t have to help pay for the program, just that the state doesn’t receive any of the benefits.
Florida is ranked 50 out of 51 states in the percentage of Medicaid-enrolled kids getting preventive dental care. In 2015, approximately 1.5 million Florida children were not seen by a dentist in the past year. Florida ranks 35th in low birth weight babies and 24th in number of infant deaths.
Failure to keep kids healthy impacts the life of a child and their family. Education, family stress, mental illness and long-term outcomes are all touched by the health of the child.
- Invest in programs proven to provide good health outcomes: Healthy Start provides services to expectant and new mothers, increasing the likelihood of good birth outcomes. Kidcare provides health insurance for children 18 and under.
- Expand the pool of eligible children: Investing in services to provide preventive care reduces the cost passed on to consumers for expensive emergency room visits.
- Encourage dentists to participate in Medicaid using incentives: Low-income children currently can’t access dental care even when they qualify for Medicaid in areas with medically underserved populations.
- Kids Count Data Center Florida Health Indicators—Annie E. Casey Foundation
Reports Florida specific statistics on all issues facing health care for children.
- Report: FL Ranks 49th For Uninsured Children—Health News Florida
Although there has been a slight improvement, Florida still ranks too high in the standings for uninsured children.
- Shattered smiles: Florida kids face dental crisis—Panama City News Herald
Though adequate dental care has been guaranteed by the Medicaid program in federal law since 1972, the reality of accessing dental care in Florida is much less secure, especially in rural or urban poor communities.
- Florida Kidcare Immigration Issues—The James Madison Institute
Information provided on the issues related to the Kidcare program and non-citizen families.
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