Kentucky could insure more children, report says

Kentucky could reduce the number of uninsured children by changing enrollment procedures for government insurance programs, according to a report released Monday.

The report, which comes from Kentucky Voices for Health, a coalition of health and children's groups, estimates that as many as 74,000 Kentucky kids who don't have insurance could be covered at a cost of $40 million to the state.

“Not covering children costs everyone,” said Ed Monahan, executive director for the Catholic Conference of Kentucky. “This is a much more up-front, rational way to do it, not only with emergency care but (with) preventive care.”

An estimated 93,000 Kentuckians younger than 19 don't have health insurance.

The report says the state could reduce that number by 80 percent if it made changes to the Kentucky Children's Health Insurance Program and Medicaid. The report recommends:

■ Allowing mail-in applications for enrollment.

■ Allowing presumptive enrollment at clinics, hospitals and Head Start programs.

■ Allowing children to enroll for one full year, regardless of any change in income.

■ Increasing income eligibility for KCHIP to 250 percent of the federal poverty level, or $53,000 for a family of four. The current eligibility level is 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

■ Raising the age limited for participation from 18 to 20.

For more on this story, see Tuesday's Herald-Leader.