NEWARK, NJ - The number of uninsured Hispanic children in New Jersey declined 27.5 percent following the expansion of certain aspects of the Affordable Care Act, according to a new report by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, the National Council of La Raza and Advocates for Children of New Jersey (ACNJ).

The number of uninsured Hispanic children in the state decreased from 48,000 in 2013 to 35,000 in 2014, the report said.

This is likely due to changes in the Affordable Care Act, including the expansion of Medicaid and the provision of tax credits for health insurance premiums. In addition, New Jersey's income eligibility limit of 350 percent of the federal poverty level is among the most generous in the nation. New Jersey is also one of only a handful of states that covers lawfully residing immigrant children.

Despite these gains, Hispanic children in New Jersey are still more likely to be uninsured than their peers. New Jersey’s uninsured rate for Hispanic children was 7 percent -- considerably higher than the 4.6 percent rate for all children in 2014.

“We need to close the health care coverage gap for Hispanic kids so all New Jersey kids can get the health care they need to succeed in school and grow up to become healthy, successful adults,” said Mary Coogan, ACNJ’s assistant director. “The vast majority of New Jersey’s Hispanic kids are U.S. citizens and most are eligible for publicly-funded health coverage.”

The report, which assessed uninsured rates in all 50 states and Washington D.C. from 2013 to 2014, found New Jersey’s 7 percent uninsured rate for Hispanic children was significantly smaller than the U.S. average of 9.7 percent.

Nationwide, an estimated 1.7 million Hispanic children are uninsured and Hispanic children are more than one and a half times more likely than all children to lack health insurance. The report also notes that Hispanic children are the fastest growing segment of the nation’s child population. Researchers project that Hispanics will make up one third of the U.S. workforce by 2050.

“Healthy kids are healthy learners and states that help all kids get the health coverage they need to succeed will help build a healthier, better educated workforce for tomorrow,” said Sonya Schwartz, a researcher at Georgetown University and lead author of the report. “Since Hispanic kids have a higher uninsured rate, it makes sense to focus on helping Hispanic families overcome barriers to enrolling in affordable health coverage.”

Families interested in enrolling their children in affordable health care coverage should contact NJ FamilyCare at 1-800-701-0710 or njfamilycare.org.

Open enrollment through the Affordable Care Act closes at the end of January, but Medicaid and NJ FamilyCare enrollment are open all year.