Obama administration touts record number of insured children

A record number of children have health insurance in the United States today, administration officials told a Senate panel on Thursday, even despite the recession.

While 10 percent of children were without health insurance in 2008, Cecilia Rouse of the Council of Economic Advisers told the health panel’s Subcommittee on Children and Families, that number may have dropped as low as 8.2 percent a year later — “the lowest level on record.”

“It is important to highlight one indicator of child well-being that, thanks to the federal government, has not suffered during the recession — health insurance for children,” Rouse said in prepared remarks at a hearing on the “State of the American Child.” “Given that over one-half of Americans obtain their health insurance through their employer, hard economic times can bring increases in the numbers of children without health insurance coverage. ... Fortunately, the increase in the proportion of children covered by public health insurance more than compensated for the decline in private insurance.” 

Rouse went on to credit the “historic expansion of the Children’s Health Insurance Program” signed into law last year, that extended coverage to an extra 2.6 million children during FY 2009.

Howard Koh, the assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services, added that HHS’s five-year campaign challenging state and local leaders and officials to enroll eligible children into public programs should also help.