This article explores how a specialty type's local workforce capacity and a specialty practice's location relate to the likelihood of denying care to children covered by Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) while accepting private insurance. Data on discriminatory denials of care to children with public insurance came from an audit study involving 273 practices across seven medical specialties serving children in Cook County, Illinois. These data were linked to physician workforce data and neighborhood poverty data to test for associations with discriminatory denials of public insurance, after adjusting for control variables. In a large metropolitan county, discriminatory denials of specialty care access for publicly insured children were attenuated for specialty types with greater local workforce capacity (odds ratio [OR]: 0.74, 95 percent; confidence interval [CI]: 0.57–0.98) and for practices located in higher-poverty neighborhoods (OR: 0.95, 95 percent; CI: 0.93–0.98). Although limited as a single-site study, our findings support the widespread consensus that payment rates are the strongest driver of decisions to serve patients enrolled in public insurance programs. At a time when state and federal budgets are under strain, ensuring access equity for children covered by Medicaid and CHIP may require policies focused on economic levers tailored based on practice location.

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