Organizations Brainstorm for Ways to Provide Health Insurance Coverage for All Children

Conference on policy options for providing children with universal health insurance coverage

During 1995 and 1996, four health policy organizations produced policy options for providing health insurance coverage for all children. The organizations included:

  • George Washington University
  • Hudson Institute
  • University of Kansas
  • McManus Health Policy

Recommendations were presented and debated in two forums in 1996: a seminar at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) in and a conference sponsored by Boston University's School of Public Health.

Key Results

  • George Washington University: Its report focused on the immediate need for a practical solution to the child health care crisis, which meant trying to be consistent with the direction in which government policy-makers seemed to be moving and in keeping with the public's expectations.

    • Hudson Institute: Its report recommended the consideration of three short-run options and one long-run option:
      • Short-run option 1: Convert Medicaid into low-income health assistance (with the exception of long-term care) for all low-income families.
      • Short-run option 2: Inform the newly unemployed of their right, under COBRA, to continue their old coverage temporarily.
      • Short-run option 3: Allow recipients of the earned income tax credit to purchase health insurance coverage for children by having insurers accept an earned income tax credit as payment.
      • Long-run option: Health care measures which are "unthinkable" now may become quite "thinkable" in 15 years as the first Baby Boomers begin to retire and Medicare comes under ever more crushing financial strain.
  • University of Kansas: Its report proposed one comprehensive program, recommending the establishment of a national network of community child health and wellness partnerships comprised of neighborhood clinics, youth groups and clubs, public schools, churches and other nonprofits, and neighborhood organizations.

  • McManus Health Policy presented three options:

    • Option 1: Most children would continue to receive health insurance through policies provided by their parents' employers, and children receiving Medicaid would retain entitlement status, but Medicaid funds would be used to purchase private health insurance from "mainstream" providers.
    • Option 2: Most children would continue to receive health insurance through policies provided by their parents' employers, with Congress granting new tax incentives to corporations to encourage more of them to offer dependent coverage for children at reasonable rates.
    • Option 3: Congress would create a national children's health care trust fund overseen by an independent commission.

    At the conclusion of the projects, the principal investigators came together in a seminar at RWJF's headquarters in Princeton, N.J., to present their conclusions and recommendations to foundation staff members and others concerned with children's health issues.

    The seminar underscored the urgent need to alert policymakers to the rapid decline underway in children's health care coverage.

  • A one-day conference, "Policy Options to Provide Children with Universal Health Insurance Coverage," took place in Washington on July 11, 1996. Some 56 representatives from child advocacy groups, think tanks, business groups, professional associations and the media attended.

    Sponsored by the Boston University School of Public Health, the conference covered the primary reasons children do not have health insurance coverage, reasons why coverage is an urgent issue, and areas of consensus for possible next steps.