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ID Groups Launch Campaign for Health Coverage for All Kids


Thursday, June 17, 2021   

BOISE, Idaho - A new campaign aims to ensure every kid in Idaho has health-care coverage. Health groups have launched Idaho Kids Covered to close the gap for children who don't have insurance.

Voters passed an initiative in 2018 expanding Medicaid coverage for more low-income Idaho families. More Idahoans have enrolled in the program, but in 2019, 24,000 kids still didn't have coverage.

Liz Woodruff, executive director of the Idaho Academy of Family Physicians, said one reason is the built-in barriers their parents have to navigate.

"We want to make sure that health-care coverage is affordable," said Woodruff, "that it's easy for families to enroll in coverage, and that they have the opportunities through policies to get the coverage that they need, so that their kids have health care."

She said the pandemic likely affected how many kids have health coverage in the state. Even those who do were less likely or unable to get regular health check-ups, which Woodruff said are vital for kids' long-term health.

About one in three Idaho children don't receive annual medical checkups, according to Idaho Kids Covered.

Christine Psani, executive director of the Idaho Council on Developmental Disabilities, said early intervention is vital for the health of children with developmental disabilities.

But she cited big gaps in outreach for families who speak Spanish or other languages than English. Psani said she thinks the state should do a better job helping people in the language they understand.

"But also to make those services culturally competent," said Psani. "It's not necessarily the same type of service that one community may want or need, versus another community."

Kyle Rooks is the policy and communications director at the Idaho Primary Care Association, which represents community health centers. He said the centers served more than 43,000 children last year, 7,000 of whom were uninsured.

Rooks said the centers are safety nets that see people regardless of whether they have coverage, and noted the fear of a pricey hospital bill could affect decisions about seeing a doctor for some.

"You worry," said Rooks. "Would parents hesitate to bring their kids elsewhere if the more emergent care were needed, or more specialty services were required? If that causes hesitation for parents to act on that, it is concerning for community health centers."

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