Objectives: Health-related services and compensatory mechanisms have a potential role in minimizing functional limitations and increasing quality of life among children with special health care needs (CSHCN). We examined whether rates of functional limitations among CSHCN in the 50 states and District of Columbia were associated with state-level characteristics that reflect access to such services among CSHCN.
Methods: We aggregated child-level survey data from the National Survey of CSHCN to create 51 state-level estimates of the proportions who had functional limitations, had >/=1 unmet health needs, and lacked medical insurance coverage. State-level information about Medicaid spending per child enrollee in federal fiscal year 2000 was obtained from The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation website. We examined correlations between the percentages of CSHCN having functional limitations and each of the other state-level variables, and conducted multiple regression analyses that examined these associations while controlling for the statewide percentages of children living in poverty.
Results: The proportions of CSHCN with functional limitations were higher in states with higher rates of uninsured CSHCN (r = .49; p < .0001) and higher rates of CSHCN with unmet health needs (r = .62; p < .0001). Proportions of CSHCN with functional limitations were unrelated to per child Medicaid spending. These findings were robust when we controlled for percentages of children in poverty across states.
Conclusions: Fewer unmet needs for health-related services are associated with lower statewide rates of functional limitations in CSHCN. As health care costs increase and state revenues decrease, CSHCN are at increasing risk of losing access to required services. Were this to happen we might expect an increase in the proportion of CSHCN who experience significant functional limitations. Thus, a key challenge is to provide CSHCN access to the amount and quality of health-related care they require to achieve their potential.