While Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have greatly improved coverage rates, around 100,000 children in New York still lack coverage. An even greater number live in medically underserved areas, without meaningful access to quality care. The result is too many children suffering from unmet health needs, poor outcomes, and health disparities. In fact, New York has the highest rate of preventable pediatric hospitalizations of any state in the nation. Unmet health needs can also result in children falling behind developmentally and having trouble catching up physically, socially, and academically. Poor children and children of color have worse access to care and face more health disparities than their more resourced and privileged peers.
All children in New York should have access to health coverage and care that is comprehensive, affordable, child-appropriate, and easy to get and keep regardless of income, zip code, place of birth or immigration status.
The Children’s Defense Fund-New York works to ensure every child in New York has a Healthy Start in life. To achieve this, we focus on improving health coverage, increasing access to high-quality, culturally and linguistically appropriate care, improving outcomes, and eliminating disparities.
- Our goal is coverage for every child. We can achieve this protecting and enhancing Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), fully-funding health insurance navigator services, improving the capacity of schools to facilitate referrals for enrollment, and ensuring culturally and linguistically appropriate resources to aid enrollment are available at multiple access points in the community.
- Our goal is access to high-quality, culturally and linguistically competent care for every child. New York has the highest rate of preventable pediatric hospitalizations of any state in the nation. Preventable hospitalizations are a measure of how well a state’s primary care system is performing. Many children in New York live in medically underserved areas, which lack a sufficient number of primary care providers. Some of these areas also lack a sufficient number of mental health providers or dentists. Our youngest New Yorkers and their families face other barriers to care, including transportation time or cost, or lack of culturally competent care.
New York can improve access to care by investing in school-based health centers. School-based health centers overcome access barriers by providing services where children spend most of their time during the day. School-based health centers have been shown to increase attendance rates, improve academic outcomes, and reduce hospitalizations.
- Our goal is improved child health outcomes and the elimination of disparities. Health is about more than illness or disease. Health is a resource that helps children develop the capacity to become successful in school and life. Healthier children have more energy, better concentration, and greater productivity than their peers. Improving child health outcomes will yield a lifetime of benefits for children, their families, and New York.
We can improve health outcomes by eliminating childhood lead poisoning. No amount of lead is safe in children. Yet, well over 100,000 children in New York have had tests indicating some amount of lead in their blood. Even the lowest detectable levels of lead in the blood have been found to cause permanent neurological damage and behavioral disorders. Greater investment in testing for lead, cleaning up or eliminating known sources, and better public disclosure of known hazards will help eliminate this problem once and for all.
While New York leads the pack in many health outcome measures, racial and ethnic disparities abound. Black babies statewide are twice as likely as white babies to die prematurely or be born at a low birthweight. In several parts of the state, black mothers are twice as likely as white mothers to die in childbirth. The causes of these disparities are multiple, as are the solutions. We can and must do better.