Cutting Red Tape Would Help Uninsured Children Get Health Coverage, Study Finds

State options to expand access to health insurance for children

Children Now of Oakland, Calif., identified private sector-led approaches to expand health care coverage for children in California.

Because California is the most populous state and has the largest number of uninsured children, it represented an important opportunity for exploring viable options for expanded health coverage for children.

Children Now proposed a three-pronged approach—public education, analysis of private-sector options to expand children's coverage, and initial efforts to garner resources to expand coverage.

Key Results

  • In March 1997, Children Now released California's Working Families and Their Uninsured Children,a series of three reports that helped increase public awareness of the issue of uninsured children.

  • Children Now convened a 34-member interdisciplinary health policy advisory committee and with its guidance drafted Recommendations for Expanding Children's Health Coverage.

    • Recommendations and strategies focused mainly on public sector approaches to the problem—including increasing Medi-Cal enrollment of eligible children, targeting community benefits from nonprofit hospitals, and directing nonprofit to for-profit hospital conversion resources to uninsured children.
  • Children Now also compiled a database of more than 450 California and national stakeholders to generate organizational support, networked at conferences, and built support through outreach efforts.

  • One of the major purposes of the grant—involving the California business community in providing children with increased access to health care coverage—proved to be more problematic than were the initiatives directed at the public sector.

  • An unanticipated increase in attention at both the federal and state levels to the problem of uninsured children and the interest of its other funders caused staff at Children Now to shift its attention to public policies for expanding coverage rather than private-sector policies.