Health

Over the next few months, we’ll hear a lot about health coverage. Terms like insurance mandates, marketplace, risk pools—among others—will be used frequently. We’ll continue to update Speaking of Kids’ readers on what this means for children and families in Utah. But it is important to understand the broader picture and what is at stake: that is, the ability of children, families and individuals to achieve their optimal health.everyone needs health insurance1Health insurance coverage is not a guarantee that someone will be healthy. There is a lot that goes into someone’s overall health including family medical history, access to quality care, environment, socioeconomic status and social conditions.

But without insurance coverage, we cannot make progress and create a place where all children, families and individuals can be healthy and thrive.

For more information, see Why Health Insurance is Important
There is a lot of discussion and media attention about ‘repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act’ right now. As details about different proposals emerge, let’s consider how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has affected Utah children and families to date.*

  • Today almost 38,000 Utah children have coverage in the ACA health insurance marketplace. These are children at risk of becoming uninsured if the ACA is repealed.
  • 23% of all Utahns receiving coverage in the ACA health insurance exchange are under 18, compared to 9% nationally. Utah has one of the highest rates of children in the ACA marketplace.
  • The vast majority—87%—of Utahns in the ACA marketplace receive subsidies.
  • Utah has many young families in the ACA marketplace. Over half of all Utahns in the ACA marketplace are under 34.
  • Due to the provisions of the ACA, Utah recently saw a significant decline in its overall uninsured rate. Since 2011, Utah’s child uninsured rate has dropped from 11% to 7%. See our recent report to learn more about Utah’s declining uninsured rates: 
    There Are 20,000 Fewer Uninsured Kids in Utah, Thanks to the Affordable Care Act

We have made substantial progress in the last few years toward helping more children and families get health insurance coverage. Moreover, the ACA established essential health benefits that all plans must cover, including prenatal care and pediatric services. It is critically important that we not lose the gains we have made for children and families in Utah. A repeal of the ACA puts children and families’ health coverage and benefits at risk.

Contact Utah Senator Orrin Hatch and tell him to protect the ACA and affordable, comprehensive health coverage for Utahns. Utah children and families’ health depends on it.

Contact Senator Hatch

*Thank you to our friends at the Utah Health Policy Project (UHPP) for sharing these data on Utah’s health insurance exchange. For more information visit UHPP.


For 30 years now, Voices for Utah Children has called on our state, federal and local leaders to put children’s needs first. But the work is not done. The children of 30 years ago now have children of their own. Too many of these children are growing up in poverty, without access to healthcare or quality educational opportunities.

How can you be involved?

Make a tax-deductible donation to Voices for Utah Children—or join our Network with a monthly donation of $20 or more.  Network membership includes complimentary admission to Network events with food, socializing, and opportunity to meet child advocacy experts. And don't forget to join our listserv to stay informed!

We look forward to the future of Voices for Utah Children and we hope you will be a part of our next 30 years.

Special thanks to American Express, our "Making a Difference All Year Long" sponsor. Amex

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New local data for each county in Utah are now available at the Voices for Utah Children website. Each county-level profile includes child demographics and measures of child-wellbeing related to education, health and economics.

Here are just some of the questions you can answer with the new data:

  • What is the average student/teacher ratio at local schools?
  • What percent of kids are chronically absent from local schools?
  • How many children were victims of abuse in my county?
  • What is the children’s health insurance rate in my county?
  • How many local kids are living in poverty?

Check it out here: 
Kids Count County Data Sheets

Photo Credit: Scott Webb


For 30 years now, Voices for Utah Children has called on our state, federal and local leaders to put children’s needs first. But the work is not done. The children of 30 years ago now have children of their own. Too many of these children are growing up in poverty, without access to healthcare or quality educational opportunities.

How can you be involved?

Make a tax-deductible donation to Voices for Utah Children—or join our Network with a monthly donation of $20 or more.  Network membership includes complimentary admission to Network events with food, socializing, and opportunity to meet child advocacy experts. And don't forget to join our listserv to stay informed!

We look forward to the future of Voices for Utah Children and we hope you will be a part of our next 30 years.

Special thanks to American Express, our "Making a Difference All Year Long" sponsor. Amex

 

Published in News & Blog

This new 3-minute video, featuring Lincoln Nehring, President and CEO of Voices for Utah Children and policy experts at the Georgetown Center for Children and Families, describes the plight of Utah families in the healthcare coverage gap. In Utah, a single mom with two children must earn $756/month or less to qualify for Medicaid.  "That is painfully low," points out Nehring. In most other states, a parent can earn triple that amount and still qualify.

Joan Alker of Georgetown lists three reasons Utah should expand access to coverage:

  1. A healthier parent is a better parent.
  2. Children are more likely to be insured if their parents are insured.
  3. The whole family must be insured to protect the family from medical debt and bankruptcy.

The good news? "States can expand Medicaid at any time—the sooner the better," says Nehring.

Utah Health Coverage Gap from Georgetown CCF on Vimeo.


For 30 years now, Voices for Utah Children has called on our state, federal and local leaders to put children’s needs first. But the work is not done. The children of 30 years ago now have children of their own. Too many of these children are growing up in poverty, without access to healthcare or quality educational opportunities.

How can you be involved?

Make a tax-deductible donation to Voices for Utah Children—or join our Network with a monthly donation of $20 or more.  Network membership includes complimentary admission to Network events with food, socializing, and opportunity to meet child advocacy experts. And don't forget to join our listserv to stay informed!

We look forward to the future of Voices for Utah Children and we hope you will be a part of our next 30 years.

Special thanks to American Express, our "Making a Difference All Year Long" sponsor. Amex

 

Published in News & Blog

A new report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities finds that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) spends just $1.35 on average per person per meal for households with children, yet lifts millions of families and their children out of poverty. Here are some other key findings of the report:

  • SNAP kept about 10.3 million people out of poverty in 2012, including about 4.9 million children. 
  • SNAP helps families put food on the table. Food insecurity — limited access to enough food for an active, healthy life — among children falls by roughly a third after their families receive SNAP benefits for six months. 
  • Some evidence suggests that children receiving SNAP are less likely than low-income non-participants to be in fair or poor health or underweight, and their families are less likely to trade off paying for health care and paying for other basic needs, like food, housing, heating, and electricity.
  • Children who receive SNAP do better in school. SNAP participation can lead to improvements in reading and mathematics skills among elementary children, especially young girls, and increase the chances of graduating from high school.
  • Adults who had access to SNAP as young children reported better health and had lower rates of “metabolic syndrome” (a combined measure of the incidence of obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes), and women who had access to food stamps as young children reported improved economic self-sufficiency (as measured by a combination of employment, income, poverty status, high school graduation, and program participation).

For more information, see the complete report:

SNAP Works for America’s Children 


For 30 years now, Voices for Utah Children has called on our state, federal and local leaders to put children’s needs first. But the work is not done. The children of 30 years ago now have children of their own. Too many of these children are growing up in poverty, without access to healthcare or quality educational opportunities.

How can you be involved?

Make a tax-deductible donation to Voices for Utah Children—or join our Network with a monthly donation of $20 or more.  Network membership includes complimentary admission to Network events with food, socializing, and opportunity to meet child advocacy experts. And don't forget to join our listserv to stay informed!

We look forward to the future of Voices for Utah Children and we hope you will be a part of our next 30 years.

Special thanks to American Express, our "Making a Difference All Year Long" sponsor. Amex

 

Published in News & Blog
September 06, 2016

It's Suicide Prevention Week

For more details about the youth suicide problem in Utah and possible policy solutions, see Teen Suicide Rates in Utah.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers these suggestions for individuals to help prevent suicide among their own family and friends:

Step One Be The To 2 ask 500x500 1

Step Two Be The To 5 500x500 be there

Step Three BT1T KEEP THEM SAFE 500x500

Step Four be the to 6 500x500 connect

Step Five bt1t follow up step five 500x500

Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) suicide life line

 sad preteen with hoodie featured


For 30 years now, Voices for Utah Children has called on our state, federal and local leaders to put children’s needs first. But the work is not done. The children of 30 years ago now have children of their own. Too many of these children are growing up in poverty, without access to healthcare or quality educational opportunities.

How can you be involved?

Make a tax-deductible donation to Voices for Utah Children—or join our Network with a monthly donation of $20 or more.  Network membership includes complimentary admission to Network events with food, socializing, and opportunity to meet child advocacy experts. And don't forget to join our listserv to stay informed!

We look forward to the future of Voices for Utah Children and we hope you will be a part of our next 30 years.

Special thanks to American Express for sponsoring our 30th Anniversary Year. Amex

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NAIC Cover ImageConsumer representatives to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, including Voices for Utah Children, released recommendations for policymakers to address the high prices that put medications out of reach for many families in need.

Recommendations include:

  • Limit the number of drug tiers that insurers can use;
  • Limit consumer cost-sharing by, for instance, prohibiting coinsurance for prescription drugs;
  • Adopt standardized plans with meaningful cost-sharing limits to mitigate adverse tiering;
  • Prohibit mid-year formulary changes that negatively affect enrollee access to drugs;
  • Require formularies to be updated weekly and include information about drug tiering, the actual dollar amount of any cost-sharing, any utilization management or network restrictions, and the process to request a drug exception, among other information;
  • Collect standardized, plan-level data to enable the development of consumer tools and apps; and
  • Solicit feedback from external stakeholders—such as advocates, other state agencies, ombudsmen, and independent medical experts—to inform the formulary review process.

For more information, see the complete report:

Promoting Access to Affordable Prescription Drugs: Policy Analysis and Consumer Recommendations for State Policymakers, Consumer Advocates, and Health Care Stakeholders


For 30 years now, Voices for Utah Children has called on our state, federal and local leaders to put children’s needs first. But the work is not done. The children of 30 years ago now have children of their own. Too many of these children are growing up in poverty, without access to healthcare or quality educational opportunities.

How can you be involved?

Make a tax-deductible donation to Voices for Utah Children—or join our Network with a monthly donation of $20 or more.  Network membership includes complimentary admission to Network events with food, socializing, and opportunity to meet child advocacy experts. And don't forget to join our listserv to stay informed!

We look forward to the future of Voices for Utah Children and we hope you will be a part of our next 30 years.

Special thanks to American Express for sponsoring our 30th Anniversary Year. Amex

Published in News & Blog

Happy Women's Equality Day! The Nineteenth Amendment, granting women the right to vote, was certified on August 26, 1920. Each year, we commemorate this important milestone and evaluate our progress toward achieving full equality for American women.

Here in Utah, a big part of that goal is reducing our gender gap in wages, which is one of the highest in the nation. Voices for Utah Children described the wage gap problem in the report Utah’s Gender Opportunity: An examination of the difference between the earnings of Utah men and women.

Addressing workplace policies that have a disparate impact on women expectant parents cover by making it more difficult to balance work with family responsibilities is key to eliminating the gender gap.

Fortunately, Utah made some progress in that direction during the past year. The Utah Legislature passed Senate Bill 59, which requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant and breastfeeding women. The new law bumped Utah up from a failing grade to a C- in the National Partnership for Women & Families most recent rankings. Let's keep working our way up to an 'A'!


For 30 years now, Voices for Utah Children has called on our state, federal and local leaders to put children’s needs first. But the work is not done. The children of 30 years ago now have children of their own. Too many of these children are growing up in poverty, without access to healthcare or quality educational opportunities.

How can you be involved?

Make a tax-deductible donation to Voices for Utah Children—or join our Network with a monthly donation of $20 or more.  Network membership includes complimentary admission to Network events with food, socializing, and opportunity to meet child advocacy experts. And don't forget to join our listserv to stay informed!

We look forward to the future of Voices for Utah Children and we hope you will be a part of our next 30 years.

Special thanks to American Express for sponsoring our 30th Anniversary Year. Amex

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August 15, 2016

Teen Suicide Rates in Utah

What’s Behind the Latest Kids Count Rankings?

Utah’s national health ranking dropped from seventh to 27th, according to the annual 2016 Annie E. Casey Foundation Kids Count Data Book. As has been widely reported, one of the reasons for this drop in rankings is an alarming rise in youth suicide.

The suicide rate among youth ages 10-19 has doubled since 2008. Nationally Utah has one of the highest rates of youth suicide, and the highest for teenage girls. The rate of suicide among girls in Utah is almost double the national average.

The suicide rate is significantly higher than all other fatal injuries for youth—both intentional and unintentional. The Utah Department of Health 2015 survey data confirms that youth depression and suicide ideation rates are on the rise. Among surveyed youth (grades 6-12), 14.4% said they had seriously considered attempting suicide; this is up from 7.4% in 2011. Depression among youth also increased; 22.7% of all youth experienced depression related indicators in 2015. The increase is particularly significant for younger children: since 2011, the rate of depression among 6th graders has more than doubled to 16.2%.

Researchers and advocates point to a variety of possible reasons for the rise in youth suicide. Some reports suggest that Utah LGBTQ youth are at a higher risk. Others point to a rise in bullying, especially online, and increased pressure and social demands on our youth. The Utah Department of Health notes that children who are involved in the juvenile justice system or experience school disciplinary action can be at a higher risk. In addition, children living in rural and frontier areas may have higher rates of suicide, because they have a harder time accessing services and care. There is no one clear answer to explain this alarming rise, and the reasons are often complex.

But there are important steps we can take now, moving forward to keep families and children safe.

Policy Implications and Action to Keep All Children Safe

Expand mental and behavioral health services for children and youth. Start early and screen often to promote children’s behavioral, developmental and mental health. All children should have access to comprehensive mental health screenings and care. The earlier we start, the more likely we can prevent disorders from occurring or escalating. At least 14% of all children in Utah report one or more mental, behavioral or developmental conditions, according to 2011-2012 data. Investment in early mental health promotion and intervention strengthens outcomes for children, families and communities.

Safeguard homes. Over a third of all youth suicides in Utah are committed with firearms. Keeping children safe and firearms stored properly is a critical factor in suicide prevention. For more information, visit www.projectchildsafe.org.

Cover all kids. 85,000 children in Utah do not have health insurance, limiting their access to mental health services. When children are not insured, they are less likely to get care and build consistent relationships with providers. Health insurance is the starting point to keep our kids healthy and safe.

Cover all parents, too. Too many parents are uninsured in Utah because they fall into the Medicaid coverage gap. When parents are uninsured, they cannot get the mental and physical health care and treatment they need. We need to close the insurance gap for all parents and individuals. To create a safe and healthy home for their family, all parents need affordable health insurance.

Improve access to regular check-ups and preventive care. Well-child visits are important opportunities to assess children’s physical and mental health. Children of all ages should receive timely, comprehensive check-ups, including regular, standardized developmental screenings. But less than 50% of adolescents receive their well-care visit. Parents should also be screened during well-care visits to assess family history and provide comprehensive care.

Support and strengthen school-based, after school and out-of-school time counseling and resources. Ensure that children can access counseling and care, and build trusted support networks with peers and adults.

Support ongoing research and improved data. We need to ensure our public health and safety systems have accurate and comprehensive information. They need to have the tools, measurements and support necessary to fully understand who is affected, how Utah families are accessing the quality care they need, and how to connect children with treatment.

Out of the Shadows

Recent reports and media attention are bringing this important issue to light. Now it is time to act. No one in Utah should have to experience this tragedy. Through strong policies, dedicated resources and coordinated action, we can keep our youth safe and build communities where all Utah children and youth can thrive.

For additional information

Help is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

If you live in Utah, call the Statewide Crisis Line at 
801-587-3000 or

call the National Suicide Prevention LifeLine at
1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org


For 30 years now, Voices for Utah Children has called on our state, federal and local leaders to put children’s needs first. But the work is not done. The children of 30 years ago now have children of their own. Too many of these children are growing up in poverty, without access to healthcare or quality educational opportunities.

How can you be involved?

Make a tax-deductible donation to Voices for Utah Children—or join our Network with a monthly donation of $20 or more.  Network membership includes complimentary admission to Network events with food, socializing, and opportunity to meet child advocacy experts. And don't forget to join our listserv to stay informed!

We look forward to the future of Voices for Utah Children and we hope you will be a part of our next 30 years.

Special thanks to American Express for sponsoring our 30th Anniversary Year. Amex

Published in News & Blog
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Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) is working to pass the Family First Prevention Services Act (HR.5456/S.3065), a bipartisan bill that would ensure more children can stay safely with family and out of foster care by allowing federal child welfare dollars to be used on preventive mental health, substance abuse, and in-home counseling services to children who are candidates for foster care, as well as their parents or caregivers.

family first actThe bill also encourages the placement of children in foster care in the least restrictive, most family-like settings appropriate to their needs. This positive step would conform to the Annie E. Casey Foundation recommendations listed in a recently released report:

Kids Count Report: Too many children in child welfare are not living in families

“The Family First Prevention Services Act has the potential to have a far-reaching impact in the lives of foster children and youth and their families,” said Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus Campaign for Children. He commended Senator Hatch “for promoting evidence-based prevention services to keep children in family settings and out of foster care.”

Thank you, Senator Hatch, for your leadership on this issue!

For more information, see this fact sheet:

First Focus Fact Sheet: Family First Prevention Services Act


For 30 years now, Voices for Utah Children has called on our state, federal and local leaders to put children’s needs first. But the work is not done. The children of 30 years ago now have children of their own. Too many of these children are growing up in poverty, without access to healthcare or quality educational opportunities.

How can you be involved?

Make a tax-deductible donation to Voices for Utah Children—or join our Network with a monthly donation of $20 or more.  Network membership includes complimentary admission to Network events with food, socializing, and opportunity to meet child advocacy experts. And don't forget to join our listserv to stay informed!

We look forward to the future of Voices for Utah Children and we hope you will be a part of our next 30 years.

Special thanks to American Express for sponsoring our 30th Anniversary Year. Amex

Published in News & Blog