Mixed picture for health of Illinois kids - FOX 32 News Chicago

Mixed picture for health of Illinois kids

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

On Thursday, Voices released its Illinois Kids Count 2014 report, "Child Health Matters."

Gaylord Gieseke, President of Voices, pointed out areas of progress.

"Illinois Kids Count 2014 documents some positive trends for children's health in our state — fewer children without health insurance, declining infant mortality rates, fewer young children with lead poisoning, and fewer teen deaths from accidents, homicide, or suicide," said Gieseke.

According to Dr. Kay Saving and Scott Allen of the Illinois chapter and American Academy of Pediatrics, they said that the Affordable Care Act is already working and helping.

"As early as 2010, ACA benefits fundamentally changed health insurance for children. The law guarantees coverage for children with pre-existing conditions, eliminated lifetime coverage limits, prevented insurers from dropping coverage when a child gets sick, and ensured young adults could stay on their parents' plans until they turn 26. What does this mean for children? Our goal of identifying children with delays and disabilities early – which is critical to accessing services and improving outcomes – will no longer put families in impossible situations with their coverage and finances."

Although, Gieseke made the argument that there is still a long way to go.

"The data also show disturbing disparities related to household income level, race and ethnicity, special health care needs, and other factors. Because health is impacted by so many factors — individual, family, and community — reducing these disparities will require a broad set of policy strategies," said Gieseke.

Of course, putting into effect policies to improve children's health requires money. Gieseke cautions that investing in kids may decline even more and soon.

"At the end of 2014, Illinois is projected to lose massive amounts of revenue due to the rollback of current income tax rates, which could lead to more devastating cuts. Given this immediate challenge, Voices for Illinois Children will also be working this year to maintain the stable and sustainable revenue necessary to protect and promote the healthy development of Illinois's youngest and most vulnerable residents," said Gieseke.

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