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September 22, 2017

NC Makes Little Progress in Reducing Rate of Uninsured Latino Children

This week is National Latino Week of Action, as agencies and organizations work to connect Latino communities with health coverage.

Data in a report released by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families and National Council of La Raza indicates that while North Carolina is making slight progress in increasing coverage of Hispanic children, there is much work to be done. Rob Thompson, a spokesman for NC Child, explained why the state should work to do better for the children, a vast majority of whom are citizens.

“Hispanic children are becoming a larger proportion of people in our state and in our country,” he said, “and so when those children are growing up, uninsured, not as healthy, that has a statewide impact on our entire well-being and our economy.”

While the data marked a success, Thompson said a disparity exists between Hispanic children and the larger population, with about 10-percent of them lacking coverage, compared with 5 percent for all children. The report suggested that states can remove additional barriers to enrollment by offering Spanish-language materials and outreach programs.

Sonya Schwartz, a policy fellow at the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, said data shows that health coverage benefits the whole child for a lifetime.

“Healthy children are healthy learners,” she said. “We have some new research available, and it shows that health coverage for children is linked to better health throughout childhood. It’s linked to school success, and it’s linked to improved financial security for their families.”

Nationwide, there was a reduction of 300,000 uninsured Hispanic children from 2013 to 2014, the year the Affordable Care Act was implemented. Thompson said the Tar Heel State could be a larger part of the success story if lawmakers opted to take advantage of all opportunities available.

“In the states that have made the biggest gains, a large portion of them have actually taken the federal funds to close the coverage gap for low-income adults,” he said, “and so that’s one thing we can do in North Carolina if we want to continue to make progress on insuring Hispanic children.”

North Carolina ranks 44th in the country when it comes to the number of uninsured Hispanic children, and is one of 10 states with the largest overall number of Latino children.

The report is online at ccf.georgetown.edu.

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