New study to focus on quality, delivery of children's health care

Children's Hospital at Strong awarded largest of nine grants nationwide

October 15, 1999

Researchers at Children's Hospital at Strong will play a significant role in an unparalleled effort to understand how to improve health care for our nation's most vulnerable children, including an estimated 11 million who are uninsured.

Children's Hospital at Strong was awarded a three-year, $1.75 million grant, the largest of nine grants announced this week by President Clinton. The money will help researchers determine which health insurance and delivery features work best for low-income children - particularly minority children and those with special health care needs.

The grant is from the U.S. Agency for Health Care Policy and Research and The David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

Peter Szilagyi, M.D., M.P.H, lead researcher of the Children's Hospital team, says the study is timely when considering the growth of managed care and the evolution of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP. Enacted as part of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, SCHIP helps states offer affordable health insurance to low-income, uninsured children in working families that earn too much to be eligible for Medicaid, yet not enough to afford typical commercial insurance plans.

The SCHIP program made monies available to every state so they could start their own version of New York's plan, which was on the cutting edge when it was launched in 1991. The Child Health Plus Program has been in operation for nearly a decade, so the research being done by Children's Hospital at Strong will have national implications.

"What we find in New York state will likely foreshadow what will happen elsewhere in the country," Szilagyi says. "We're using New York as a laboratory, and the research we do here will surely benefit other states, many of which have similar programs that are just starting."

Researchers in Rochester will determine the Child Health Plus Program's effect on access to health care and quality of health care. They will study disparities in the quality of health care provided based on a child's age, race, or geographic area, and determine which model of delivery is most effective in providing the best service.

Specifically, the research team will assess how well the program works for adolescents and younger children. Since disparities in health care have been noted across different minority groups, the researchers will study the degree to which the Child Health Plus Program reduces such racial disparities. They will also investigate how well or how poorly different types of managed care plans meet the needs of these vulnerable children.

In addition to Szilagyi, the research team at Children's Hospital at Strong includes Jack Zwanziger, Ph.D.; Andrew Dick, Ph.D.; Jonathan Klein, M.D., M.P.H.; Laura Pollard Shone, M.S.W.; Linda Barthauer, M.D., M.P.A.; and Thomas McInerny, M.D. The Rochester researchers have assembled a first-rate study team that also includes researchers at Columbia University and Montifiore Medical Center in New York City, leaders of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the state Department of Health, and the National Opinion Research Center in Chicago.

The study team at Children's Hospital at Strong has been working for nearly a decade to investigate ways to improve the health care of uninsured, poor, and vulnerable children.

"This new grant will help our nation to devise a more rational and effective health care system for vulnerable children and adolescents," Szilagyi says. "We owe it to them."

For Media Inquiries:
Public Relations Department
(585) 275-3676
Email Public Relations