California last among states in caring for children with special health care needs

November 17, 2010

California ranked worst in the nation on an index that measures whether children with special health needs have insurance and medical care, according to a study released today.

The study, Children with Special Health Care Needs: A Profile of Key Issues in California, analyzed data from two surveys of parents in every state by the U.S. Maternal and Child Health Bureau: the 2007 National Survey of Children’s Health and the 2006 National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs.

According to the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health, which commissioned the study, about one in seven children in California has a special health care need: a chronic condition that requires health care beyond what is needed by most children. That can range from mild asthma to something as complex as cerebral palsy or heart disease, the foundation said.

“These children are one of the most vulnerable segments of our society, and in many senses the system in California is not doing well for them,” said David Alexander, a pediatrician and president and CEO of the foundation.

The index measures the adequacy of insurance, whether children receive basic preventive care and receive care that is “comprehensive, ongoing and family-centered.”

California ranked no better than 40th on any of the 13 measures in the index. The state was 40th in the percentage of children with special needs who are uninsured. California was dead last in the percentage of parents who who feel like partners in their child’s care, the percentage of parents who experience stress and the percentage of children whose care meets a minimum quality index.

To see the full study, click here.

–Daniel Weintraub

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