"States have a great deal of power in children's health issues, including discretion over the Medicaid and SCHIP health programs for disadvantaged and disabled children, and we wanted to look at just how legislation on these matters develops," says lead author Matthew Davis, M.D., M.A.P.P. "Children's health care may not be as expensive as other priorities facing legislatures, but there is great opportunity to protect children through state action. Still, it appears this issue receives low priority."
Davis, an assistant professor of both pediatrics and public policy, led the project with Ford School graduate student Amy Upston, M.P.P.
Together, they pored over and classified thousands of bills from 1997 and 1998 from the state legislatures of Michigan, Colorado and Louisiana, downloaded from state legislation web sites.
Their study built on previous work by other researchers that found women legislators are more likely to put forth bills regarding health in general, and African-American legislators are more likely to introduce bills related to welfare and education policy. But no study had looked at child health bills.
Overall, Davis and Upston found that health bills of any kind comprised 6.2 percent of all bills introduced in three states, and that health bills were among the top five categories of bills introduced in Colorado and Michigan. But in every state, child health bills were a small percentage of all health bills. In all, of the 9,833 bills studied, 65 were classified as pertaining to child health.
Those bills addressed issues ranging from expansion of Medicaid and SCHIP, to mandating coverage for a minimum hospital stay after birth, to requiring health insurers to cover certain v
Contact: Kara Gavin
University of Michigan Health System