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Nearly 25,000 Of State’s Children Have New Health Coverage

LITTLE ROCK – Since last fall, nearly 25,000 children now have health coverage through ARKids First, Medicaid, or private insurance – a dramatic increase.

The bump in the number of children with insurance is a direct result of Arkansas’s bipartisan Private Option and enrollment in Marketplace plans through the Affordable Care Act. Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families (AACF) will hold a press conference this morning to talk about this great achievement (see details below).

New data from the Arkansas Department of Human Services show that since September 1, 2013:

22,228 children who were already eligible for ARKids First enrolled (to put that into perspective, in the previous eight months, 3,025 enrolled).

Almost 2,500 children enrolled in discounted plans in the Marketplace along with their caregivers.

That makes for a total of 24,658 children with new, affordable access to checkups and treatment.

“We know that when parents have coverage, kids get covered, too,” says Rich Huddleston, executive director of AACF. “The Private Option and the Affordable Care Act have gone a long way in insuring Arkansas children. We have a lot of people to thank for that including our legislative leaders, the governor, and everyone who has been involved in ARKids First since its beginning in 1997.”

Anna Strong, health policy director for AACF, says the number of uninsured children in Arkansas has dipped below six percent, down from 22 percent when ARKids First began. She says this dramatic reduction is no accident.

“Having such a low number of uninsured children is the product of a concerted, bipartisan, years-long effort to make sure kids are covered,” Strong says. “We should protect ARKids First as our health system continues to change. 25,000 kids with new coverage is great. But we still have work to do to reach the remaining uninsured children. Disparities exist with children in Northwest AR, Hispanic and Marshallese families, and older children.”

A new report released today by AACF called “Crossing Into New Territory: Kids’ Health Coverage in 2014,” provides a comprehensive look at children’s health in Arkansas and offers solutions to further reduce the number of uninsured children, including:

Protecting ARKids First and its streamlined enrollment process as health insurance changes are made.

Reinstating outreach funding in Arkansas so more families get enrolled.

Covering lawfully present children who are barred from coverage today.

For more information, you can read the full report here.