Have a Heart for Kids Day rally, 2015

Doctor’s orders: Take $80 million and protect Apple Health for Kids

Christina 03/28/11

 

Our prescription to protect Apple Health for Kids got to lawmakers last week: $80 million, take immediately and protect Apple Health for Kids. Results: Healthy kids, fewer emergency room visits, better school performance.

Last week, kids, advocates and medical professionals signed our Children’s Alliance Prescription for Protection and announced together that the state expects $80 million in federal dollars over the next two years in recognition of Apple Health for Kids.

This federal money provides a sensible means of continuing health coverage for all eligible children.

"Our belief at the Children's Alliance is that money earned for our success in children's health should be reinvested in children's health," said Children's Alliance's Deputy Director Jon Gould during an interview on KING 5 News.

The state earns this money each year from the federal government for making strides in enrolling eligible children.

Over the past two years, Apple Health for Kids’ successful enrollment practices have earned $25 million in federal bonus funding. Over the next two years, the program stands to earn $80 million, according to a new estimate by Children’s Alliance staff that’s been confirmed by the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS). If enrollment is higher than predicted, the state could earn as much as $94 million.

With one streamlined enrollment process and the same benefits package for all eligible children, Apple Health for Kids is an affordable means of making sure our kids are healthy — exactly what lawmakers intended when they passed the Cover All Kids law in 2007.

Since then, enrollment in the program has steadily grown, and the number of kids without health coverage has dropped. Nearly 700,000 kids are enrolled in the program, or about 39 percent of all Washington kids.

State lawmakers are considering eliminating Apple Health for Kids for approximately 27,000 children. This would be a big step backwards, says Gould, hurting a program that’s earning the state money in recognition of its effectiveness and efficiency.

Thousands of families who have lost health coverage due to the recession have turned to Apple Health to make sure their kids can see a doctor, dentist or medical professional. At Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic in Seattle, where pediatrician Dr. Ben Danielson practices, the majority of kids served by the clinic benefit from Apple Health for Kids.

“What this means is that kids get the developmental screens, the checkups, the immunizations, the acute care they need when they need it,” he said last week. “It means kids don’t go to the ER as often, it means kids aren’t hospitalized as often, and that saves all of us money. It means kids attend school and can pay attention in class. It means they are able to thrive, that kids are able to play like they’re supposed to.

“As a pediatrician, I know it is better to prevent illness or intervene early than it is to wait for illnesses to become severe and chronic. As a doctor and a citizen of Washington state, I’m proud to live in a state that knows the value of investing in kids, even during hard times. I’m proud to live in a state that aspires to cover all kids.”

For more detail about the $80 million federal bonus projection or our work around it, please access our policy brief and press release.