A new study finds that New York has made significant progress in getting Hispanic children enrolled for health insurance.
The paper released earlier this month by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families and the National Council of La Raza, a civil rights and advocacy group for Hispanic Americans, shows New York leading other states when it comes down to lowering the uninsured rates. New York's rate is 3.8 percent; compared to Illinois at 4.5 percent; California, 6.8 percent; and New Jersey, 7.0 percent.
The Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provides free or low-cost health coverage for more than 7 million children up to age 19.
Nationally, two-thirds of Hispanic children who are eligible for CHIP and Medicaid are not enrolled.
Lorraine Gonzalez-Camastra, director of health policy for Children's Defense Fund New York, cites several reasons why New York has been so successful. "One is state financing that allows for insurance coverage for all children up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level, as well as all children, regardless of immigration status. The second is an administrative mechanism for seamless transition between public health insurance programs on the marketplace, namely Medicaid and CHIPs, and this would be to avoid children turning off of coverage if a family's income level changes within a given year. And then, in addition to those policies, we have a key or critical infrastructure, that is community-based enrollment.”
She says through the program, all 62 counties in New York have at least one navigator organization conducting enrollment.
Hispanic kids are the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population, yet they are one-and-a-half times more likely to have no health insurance than other children.
Ladan Alomar is executive director of Centro Civico in Amsterdam: "It's wonderful news because we all work to make sure that all New Yorkers, regardless of their ethnic background, have access to healthcare and they are insured. Centro Civico is an 'ambassador agency,' and that means that we are selected to work directly with the families and hook up them up with enrollers, individuals who enroll into the marketplace."
Sonya Schwartz is a research fellow at the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families. "I think the lesson is, it takes a sustained commitment to coverage for kids and families that can include having Medicaid and CHIP programs available for kids but also extending coverage to parents, which provides a 'welcome-mat effect.' When parents enroll in coverage, they often sign their kids up in coverage, and New York's been doing that for quite awhile, so I think it's a combination of the commitment of parents who take coverage and also the openness to providing resources, information, outreach, enrollment assistance to all communities, not just communities that speak English as a first language."
Advocates agree that the next hurdle to overcome is to dispense with any stigma involved in joining subsidized insurance plans.
It's estimated that by the year 2020, Hispanics will constitute one-third of the U.S. workforce.