Of the 10 states with the highest populations of Hispanic children, Illinois has one of the lowest rates of children without health insurance, according to a new report from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families.
For uninsured Hispanic children, Illinois is at about half the national average, at 4.5 percent.
Andrea Kovach, an attorney with the Chicago-based Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, credits Illinois for expanding Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act. But she says there's work to do, because disparities still exist.
"The uninsured rate for Hispanic children is significantly greater than the uninsured rate for all children in our state," she points out.
Kovach says another reason for Illinois' success in dropping the uninsured rate for Hispanic children is the state's All Kids program, which ensures health care regardless of immigration status.
Still, in 2014 Illinois was home to about 33,000 uninsured Hispanic children. And with the state budget crisis well into its sixth month, Kovach says improving that number could be challenging, with funding for some state health services at risk of lapsing.
"We do believe that a fair and responsible budget will help more Illinoisans get access to these health coverage programs that they need, and that will keep our state strong," she stresses.
Schwartz, a policy fellow at the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, says it's important to improve the health of the Hispanic population, because it holds a unique place in the country's future.
"We know that Latino children are the fastest-growing segment of our entire population," she explains. "They're growing from one in four children today, to one in three children by 2050. And Hispanic children will be our nation's future doctors, teachers and workers."