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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE–1/15/16

North Carolina Making Progress for Uninsured Hispanic Children
Advocates applaud progress, work to close the coverage gap

RALEIGH–North Carolina saw a significant decline in the rate of uninsured Hispanic children in the first year the Affordable Care Act took effect, according to a new report released today by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, the National Council of La Raza, and NC Child.

The report, which assessed uninsurance rates in all 50 states, found that the uninsured rate for Hispanic kids in North Carolina declined by 2 percentage points, from 12.5 percent in 2013 to 10.5 percent in 2014. Despite this progress, the uninsurance rate for Hispanic children (10.5 percent) was twice as high as the uninsurance rate for all children in North Carolina (5.2 percent) in 2014. Overall, North Carolina’s uninsurance rate for Hispanic children is on par with the national average. Nearly all Hispanic children in North Carolina are citizens.

Children’s advocates applauded North Carolina’s progress, but called for continued action to help Hispanic families overcome barriers to enrolling their children in affordable coverage.

“Connecting more uninsured kids with health coverage is not only good for children and families, it’s good for our state’s schools, health care system, and economy,” said Michelle Hughes, executive director of NC Child, a statewide child advocacy organization. “Most uninsured kids in North Carolina are eligible for Medicaid or NC Health Choice, but need help to get connected with coverage.”

The report identifies several strategies for increasing the enrollment of Hispanic children in Medicaid or NC Health Choice, including using available federal dollars to close the health care coverage gap for adults. In other states, this has created a “welcome mat” effect, which happens when parents who obtain coverage for themselves enroll their children who are already eligible for Medicaid or NC Health Choice. According to the report, “of the 20 states that had uninsurance rates for Hispanic children that were significantly below the national average in 2014…17 states extended Medicaid to low-income parents and other adults.”

The latest research shows children with Medicaid coverage were less likely to drop out of high school and were more likely to graduate from college. They also had better health and economic success as adults making them less reliant on safety net programs.

“Currently, one in four children in America are Hispanic, and we estimate that by 2050, one in three U.S. workers will be Hispanic. We also know that healthier kids make healthier learners that are more successful in school and in life,” said Sonya Schwartz, a research fellow at the Georgetown University Research Center.  “That’s why it’s so important that we make sure all children, regardless of race or ethnicity, have access to health insurance that gives them a strong foundation for the future.”

Families interested in enrolling their children in affordable health care coverage should call their local DSS office or visit https://www.epass.nc.gov/CitizenPortal/application.doOpen enrollment closes at the end of January but Medicaid and NC Health Choice are open all year.

The full report, which examines rates of uninsurance rates among Hispanic children across the country, is available at this link.

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