Nearly 5 million children eligible for coverage under Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program in 2008 were not enrolled, according to a new report.
The findings, released on the Health Affairs website, were discussed at a news conference held by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
The report found that an estimated 7.3 million children were uninsured on an average day in 2008. Of that amount, 65% or 4.7 million children were eligible for Medicaid or CHIP, but not enrolled. Participation rates varied among states from 55% to 95%, while 10 states had participation rates at or above 90%.
Some 61% (2.9 million) of eligible uninsured children are concentrated in 10 states with 39% (1.8 million) in just three states—California, Florida and Texas.
“This new data will help us to focus our efforts and our grant funding where they are most needed,” Sebelius said in a written statement. “We now have a much better sense of where most uninsured children live and which communities may need more help.”
At the news conference, Sebelius highlighted HHS' “Connecting Kids to Coverage Challenge,” which aims to enroll 5 million children in Medicaid and CHIP within five years.
The CHIP Reauthorization Act and the new healthcare reform law provide $120 million for grants “designed to promote enrollment and retention strategies that will increase the prevalence of health coverage,” according to a statement from HHS.