In Texas, 22% of children are uninsured, the highest number of uninsured children in the U.S. More than half of these children (about 850,000) are eligible for but not enrolled in the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) or Medicaid. More than 500,000 uninsured Texas children live in families that earn more than the current CHIP income limit of 200% of the federal poverty level, $44,700 per year for a family of 4 in 2011.
CHIP and Medicaid provide cost-effective solutions to reduce the number of uninsured children: for every $1 invested in CHIP, Texas receives a little over $2.50 in federal matching funds; for every $1 invested in Medicaid, Texas receives a little less than $1.50 in federal matching funds. Combined, Texas Medicaid and CHIP provide health coverage to 3.8 million low-income children each month.
In its mission to ensure that Texas children have access to effective, high quality, comprehensive and appropriately funded health care, Texas Children’s Government Relations Department actively advocates for increased access to public programs designed to serve children and their families. Hospital leadership regularly shares its voice at the local, state and national levels to increase awareness of issues that shape public policy related to children’s health.
Through initiatives with the Children’s Hospital Association, the Children’s Hospital Association of Texas, the Texas Hospital Association and the Association of Community Affiliated Plans along with numerous local agencies and organizations such as One Voice and the Greater Houston Partnership, Texas Children’s takes an active and leading role in educating elected officials and community leaders regarding the importance of Medicaid, support for pediatric graduate medical education training, access to appropriate primary and specialty care for medically complex children and investing in pediatric research and regional centers of excellence. These efforts are continuous and have demonstrated great value to our community and families.
Community Impact 2011
In 2011, many policy issues regarding access to care, preserving safety net programs, supporting policies and allocating dollars to proven prevention strategies and educating elected officials on the critical importance of children’s hospitals to all children were the primary focus of Texas Children’s Hospital’s legislative advocacy strategy. Beginning in 2011, the hospital’s Government Relations department also began advocating for women’s health issues as well, specifically, maternal health.
As one of the largest children’s hospitals in the country, Texas Children’s Hospital worked collaboratively with various community based organizations to educate lawmakers, community leaders and the general public on issues affecting the health and well-being of children domestically and internationally. Such efforts included:
The creation of a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Commission that would advise the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to create and establish standards for appropriate levels of acute care by these units.
Leading efforts to create legislation that would adopt evidence-based standards of care to reduce the number of non-medically indicated inductions before 39 weeks gestation for Medicaid clients, to improve the health and well-being of newborns and their mothers.
Providing testimony and advocacy on expanding the mandate for the meningococcal vaccine to students that live off campus and not in college sponsored dormitories and the establishment of a quality and efficiency committee for our state Medicaid program to enhance care and reduce costs.