State policy environment and delayed or forgone care among children with special health care needs

Sangeeth K Gnanasekaran, Alexy Arauz Boudreau, Mah-J Soobader, Recai Yucel, Kristen Hill, Karen Kuhlthau
Maternal and Child Health Journal 2008, 12 (6): 739-46

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate if children with special health care needs (CSHCN) residing in states with more generous public insurance programs were less likely to report delayed or forgone care.

METHODS: We used multilevel modeling to evaluate state policy characteristics after controlling for individual characteristics. We used the 2001 National Survey of CSHCN for individual-level data (N=33,317) merged with state-level data, which included measures of the state's public insurance programs (Medicaid eligibility and enrollment, spending on Medicaid, SCHIP and Title V, and income eligibility levels), state poverty level and provider supply (including pediatric primary care and specialty providers). We also included a variable for state waivers for CSHCN requiring institutional level care.

RESULTS: Delayed or forgone care significantly varied among CSHCN between states, net of individual characteristics. Of all the state characteristics studied, only the Medicaid income eligibility levels influenced the risk of experiencing delayed care. CSHCN living in states with higher income eligibility thresholds or more generous eligibility levels were less likely to experience delayed care (OR 0.89(0.80,0.99); P<or=0.05).

CONCLUSIONS: By analyzing child health policy in the context of individual characteristics that may place a child at risk for delayed care, we determined that improving Medicaid eligibility levels improved the process of care for CSHCN.

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