By NICK GOSNELL
HUTCHINSON, Kan. — Kansas trailed 24 other states on health care indicators immediately before the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the 2021 KIDS COUNT® Data Book, a 50-state report of recent household data developed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation analyzing how families have fared between the Great Recession and the COVID-19 crisis that was released on Monday.
"It's really a profoundly mixed bag," said Clay Wirestone with Kansas Action for Children, who joins the Annie E. Casey Foundation in publicizing the data. "The way the KIDS COUNT® report works, is there's a big overall number, which is how Kansas does among all the states for kids. Kansas is ranked 18th, a little bit of the upper middle of the pack, then they look at these individual categories. We've always ranked fairly well in the economic wellbeing rank."
That remains true this year as Kansas ranks 11th overall on economic wellbeing. The weak point is in the health measures, where Kansas ranks 25th. Kansas is actually doing fairly well in terms of getting its kids covered with health insurance, but Wirestone points out that Medicaid expansion, which would give more adults coverage, can also help families.
"You know, what good does it do to have a kid that has insurance if their parent or their caregiver doesn't?" said Wirestone. "If they get sick, if they have some sort of medical emergency, that adult's illness is really going to throw the family for a loop."
Kansas is one of only 12 states without an expanded Medicaid program. Sixteen indicators measuring four domains — economic well-being, education, health, and family and community context — are used by the Annie E. Casey Foundation in each year’s Data Book to assess child well-being.