KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Recession Leaves Many Children Uninsured

CBS News reports on the many families losing health insurance as part of the series "Children of the Recession."  Shaunna Terry, a single mom in Austin, Texas, is a realtor who once had a "six-figure annual income."  Now, health insurance "has become a luxury they've decided to do without."  When her daughter became ill with an ear infection, she sought treatment but "balked" at the recommended follow-up visit.  When her daughter became sicker, "the school nurse told Shaunna about the Children's Health Express Van, a pediatrician's office on wheels, with no insurance forms and no fees." 

The van is one of 38 mobile medical clinics "in 15 states across the country."  "Originally intended to serve low-income, under-privileged children, the mobile medical units are seeing more parents like Shaunna come in every day, who've lost their insurance, lost their job, or both."

Irwin Redlener, a pediatrician and Columbia University professor who co-founded the organization that provides the "medi-vans," told CBS, ""When we have a situation like this recession, where we have a mounting up of barriers for families, it really increases the chances that children will fall through the cracks." He went on to say that "One safety net is supposed to be the federally funded CHIP program, recently reauthorized by President Obama. But CHIP is estimated to cover only half of the "estimated 8 million children currently uninsured." Redlener added that "for children, a temporary loss of access to health care can have lifelong consequences." "In that absence," he said "we may miss something very critical to a developing child" (Cobiella, 5/28). 

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