This week, we were proud to participate in the release of the Kids Count report, placing Massachusetts at number one in the nation when it comes to overall child well-being. The Annie E. Casey Foundation report covers a wide spectrum of data when it considers children’s wellbeing, and of course access to health care is one of the main metrics in addition to early education, child poverty, and more. With just only about 1% of children uninsured, Massachusetts does extremely well on access to coverage.
The report says that “Children have a greater opportunity to thrive and succeed in Massachusetts than in any other state,” according to our friends at the Mass Budget and Policy Center. You can read MassBudget’s full report here.
But there is more work to do. One in seven -- seven -- children in Massachusetts live in poverty. That number is too high. Governor Patrick spoke passionately about the work that lies ahead. “The question before the Commonwealth, and the country, isn't what to do - we know what to do,” said Governor Patrick. “The question is whether we mean what we say, whether all means all - opportunity for all, equality for all, a fair chance for all. If we mean it, then we have to do the things we know work." To see the Governor’s full remarks, watch his YouTube clip.
Our Executive Director, Amy Whitcomb Slemmer had this to say: "The Commonwealth's focus and forward-thinking financial investments are paying off for our children. Covering 99% of our children with health insurance as part of our commitment to providing comprehensive, affordable, accessible high quality care for all is unprecedented and unparalleled in the country.”
The facts are clear that despite our number 1 ranking, we are far from finished nationwide or at home. There is a national poverty gap that breaks along racial and ethnic lines. In America, 40 percent of black children and 34 percent of Hispanic children live in poverty while 14 percent of white children do.
In Massachusetts, despite having almost universal access to health care, there are other health concerns. For example, Massachusetts children are about as likely to abuse drugs and alcohol as kids anywhere else in the country. And we know that no issue is separate -- all the issues are interconnected. How well a child does in school often depends on his or her health, for example.
As Amy Whitcomb Slemmer said: “The Kids Count report also highlights the work yet to do. We must close the gaps for non-English speaking children and for immigrant communities across the Commonwealth. We must uproot the entrenched causes of poverty that make being born in certain zip-codes a health hazard. We must continue to push so that our world class health delivery system to which nearly every child in Massachusetts has access, translates into having the healthiest children in our nation."
The report garnered a lot of press coverage, and you can read just some of the coverage here. Again, Health Care For All is proud of Massachusetts’ number 1 status. It did not happen by accident. We got to where we are because of hard work, a commitment to universal health coverage, early education, and more. Now the work continues to make sure that we lift all children out of poverty to ensure that they lead the healthiest, happiest lives possible.