Number of Arkansas Children Without Health Insurance Declines

DECEMBER 10, 2004 - Posted at 8:57 a.m. CST

LITTLE ROCK, AR - A new report says the share of Arkansas children not covered by health insurance has declined.  The number went from 19.4 percent uninsured in 1996 to eleven percent in 2002, lower than the national average of 12 percent.

Rhonda Sanders, director of health policy for Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, credits the ARKids First program for the improvement.  That program was set up by the Legislature in 1997, at the urging of Governor Huckabee.

The report by Sanders says about 50,000 more children have health insurance today than in 1996.  Still, about 82,000 remain uninsured.

The ARKids First legislation expanded the income eligibility for Medicaid, allowing more children to qualify for the government health insurance.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)