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Journal Issue: Health Insurance for Children Volume 13 Number 1 Spring 2003

Statement of Purpose
Richard E. Behrman

Statement of Purpose

The primary purpose of The Future of Children is to promote effective policies and programs for children. The journal is intended to provide policymakers, service providers, and the media with timely, objective information based on the best available research regarding major issues related to child well-being. It is designed to complement, not duplicate, the kind of technical analysis found in academic journals and the general coverage of children's issues by the popular press and special interest groups.

This issue of the journal focuses on efforts to provide publicly funded health insurance to low-income children in the United States through Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). During the past four decades—beginning with Medicaid in 1965 and, more recently, with the creation of SCHIP in 1997—public health insurance coverage for children has evolved into a national policy priority. Together, these programs have made substantial progress in reducing the number of uninsured children. The articles in this issue summarize current knowledge and research about which children are uninsured and why, and describe the innovative strategies states have used to simplify enrollment and renewal procedures to help boost coverage.

The overarching message in this journal is a positive one: SCHIP and Medicaid work. Despite the documented success of Medicaid and SCHIP, however, high uninsurance rates among low-income children continue to be a complex problem, and a weak economy, rising health care costs, and funding shortfalls threaten to erode recent gains. To fulfill the promise of these programs, further progress is needed on several fronts. For example, these programs need to continue their focus on enrollment, outreach, and retention to ensure coverage for the high numbers of eligible yet uninsured children; they need to be supported by improved financing mechanisms; and they need to expand coverage to low-income children who are currently ineligible. If Medicaid and SCHIP could be extended to their full capacity and implemented properly, they could potentially cover virtually all low-income children in the United States.

We welcome your comments and suggestions regarding this issue of The Future of Children. Our intention is to encourage informed debate about the most effective strategies for providing publicly funded health coverage to low-income children. To this end we invite correspondence to the Editor-in-Chief. We would also appreciate your comments about the approach we have taken in presenting the focus topic and welcome your suggestions for future topics.