Expanding Access to Children’s Healthcare: Giving Appalachian Kids a Fair Start

The Louisville Courier-Journal’s Debora Yetter wrote a story yesterday about Governor Beshear’s plan to drop the $20 monthly premium that some low-income parents had to pay to cover their children under the state’s Children’s Health Insurance Program (KCHIP).

Recent changes to health care coverage have expanded access for many throughout Appalachia. In March of this year, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce prepared summaries for all 435 congressional districts, showing a district-level analysis of what the health care reform legislation would mean for each district.

According to the Committee’s analysis, in Rep. Rogers’s district, the health care reform bill will:

  • Improve coverage for 284,000 residents with health insurance.
  • Give tax credits and other assistance to up to 210,000 families and 10,700 small businesses to help them afford coverage.
  • Improve Medicare for 140,000 beneficiaries, including closing the donut hole.
  • Extend coverage to 81,000 uninsured residents.
  • Guarantee that 15,900 residents with pre-existing conditions can obtain coverage.
  • Protect 1,500 families from bankruptcy due to unaffordable health care costs.
  • Allow 52,000 young adults to obtain coverage on their parents’ insurance plans.
  • Provide millions of dollars in new funding for 32 community health centers.
  • Reduce the cost of uncompensated care for hospitals and other health care providers by $95 million annually.

Kentucky Voices for Health has analyzed the law and prepared a summary of the impacts on Kentuckians across the Commonwealth, including the opportunity to provide coverage to the 600,000+ Kentuckians currently without coverage. They have collected additional resources on the issue here.

The conversation surrounding access to health care and other such support services is significant – our region has not historically fared well on these issues. In fact, the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index puts large parts of Appalachia on the very bottom of rankings listing Life Evaluation, Emotional Health, Physical Health and Healthy Behaviors. By Congressional district, Kentucky’s 5th (Hal Rogers) came in dead last at 435, with West Virginia’s 3rd (Nick Rahall) close behind at 432 – followed by Virginia’s 9th (Rick Boucher) at 424, Ohio’s 6th (Charlie Wilson) at 419 and Tennessee’s 1st (David Davis) at 394.

Access to basic services like health care – particularly for children – must be a part of this Transition conversation. Your ideas about how to expand these efforts and ensure a fair start to Appalachian children are, as always, welcome.

Kristin Tracz

About Kristin Tracz

Kristin Tracz served MACED’s Research and Policy team from 2009-2012 working on clean energy policy, energy efficiency programs and the Appalachian Transition Initiative. She joined MACED after finishing her Master of Environmental Management degree at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. She now lives and works in Washington, DC.