More than half of American adults support the State Children’s Health Insurance Program for children and their parents who earn an annual income of up to $32,000 ? or approximately 200 percent of the federal poverty level for a family of three ? say researchers with the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children?s Hospital National Poll on Children?s Health.
According to a new report released, nearly two of every three adults also would support government?sponsored health coverage for children in families with incomes as high as $48,500, or 300 percent of the federal poverty level for a family of three.
?Given that a minority of states currently use 300 percent or higher of the federal poverty level as their eligibility threshold, our findings suggest that federal and state lawmakers who wish to expand income eligibility within their S-CHIP programs may find ample public support for those initiatives,? says Matthew M. Davis, M.D., M.A.P.P., director of the National Poll on Children?s Health, part of the Child Health Evaluation and Research (CHEAR) Unit in U-M C.S. Mott Children?s Hospital?s Division of General Pediatrics.
Results from the latest report will be highlighted at a town hall meeting at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 21 at the University of Michigan Rachel Upjohn Building in Ann Arbor with Michigan Congressman John Dingell.
At the event, Dingell and several panelists, including Valerie Castle, M.D., chair of the U-M Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases, will discuss the S-CHIP reauthorization bill for which Dingell is the House sponsor, as well as HR 2034, the Medicare for All Act, and the overall state of health care.
S-CHIP provides coverage for an estimated 6.9 million children who are not eligible for Medicaid. S-CHIP is funded through a combination of federal and state dollars, and states get to decide who is eligible, based largely on income:
? Nine states currently provide coverage for children in families with incomes 200 percent of the federal poverty level
? Twenty-four states provide coverage at 200 percent of the federal poverty level
? Nine states provide coverage between 200 percent and 300 percent of the federal poverty level
? Nine states provide coverage at or above 300 percent of the federal poverty level
With debate surrounding how generous the government should be regarding family income that would qualify for the program ? and whether parents should be allowed to enroll ? the National Poll on Children?s Health decided to gauge public opinion on this issue.
In collaboration with Knowledge Networks, Inc., the National Poll on Children?s Health conducted a national online survey in March 2007. The survey was administered to a random sample of 2,076 adults, ages 18 and older, who are a part of Knowledge Network?s online KnowledgePanelSM. The sample was subsequently weighted to reflect U.S. population figures from the U.S. Census Bureau. About two-thirds of the sample were parents.
As part of the poll, respondents were asked if the government should provide health insurance coverage for children and/or families with an annual income of $32,000 and those with a yearly income of $48,500. In both groups, uninsured families were comprised of a single parent with two children, wherein the parent had a job but could not afford health insurance provided by the employer.
For the family with an annual income of $32,000, 56 percent of respondents supported government coverage for children and parents, while 27 percent supported coverage for children only, and 17 percent did not support any coverage.
For families with an annual income of $48,500, 35 percent of respondents supported government coverage for children and parents, while 29 percent supported coverage for children only, and 36 percent do not support any coverage.
?These findings indicate broader public support for parent coverage for lower-income families than perhaps federal and state lawmakers have appreciated previously, especially regarding coverage for lower-income parents,? says Davis.
Within the group of respondents, parents (with children currently in the household) were significantly more likely to support coverage for children and parents in both income groups, compared to respondents without children in the household. Additionally, black respondents were more likely to support coverage for children and parents (49 percent), compared to respondents who were Hispanic (40 percent) or white (30 percent).
Nonetheless, Davis says, support for government-sponsored health coverage through S-CHIP was not universal. About one in three American adults opposed government coverage for families with incomes at 300 percent of the federal poverty level. And about one in six adults opposed government coverage for families with incomes at 200 percent of the federal poverty level.
?This finding is a reminder that the contentious process of S-CHIP reauthorization reflects opposing perspectives in the American public,? notes Davis.