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More NC children without health insurance coverage in 2016-18
Erosion of federal programs lead to higher rates
 
Published Thursday, November 7, 2019 10:29 am
by Herbert L. White | The Charlotte Post

The number of North Carolina children without health insurance grew by 15,000, or 13%, between 2016 and 2018, according to a Georgetown University study of national rates.

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There are more uninsured children in North Carolina, part of a national trend, according to a Georgetown University study.


The number of North Carolina youngsters without coverage grew by 15,000, or 13%, between 2016 and 2018, the report by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families. In 2016, 4.7% of the state’s children were uninsured; as of last year, it was 5.3%. The number of uninsured children increased by more than 400,000 between 2016-18, to more than 4 million in 2018.


“This serious erosion of child health coverage is likely due in large part to the Trump Administration’s actions that have made health coverage harder to access and have deterred families from enrolling their eligible children in Medicaid and CHIP,” the Children’s Health Insurance Program, authors Joan Alker and Lauren Roygardner wrote.


The researchers concluded erosion in children’s health coverage was linked in part to government efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and cut Medicaid; delays in funding CHIP; elimination of the individual mandate penalty; enrollment outreach and advertising cuts; inadequate oversight of state Medicaid programs that have created more red tape barriers; and creation of a climate of fear and confusion for immigrant families that discourages them from enrolling eligible children in Medicaid or CHIP.


“Recent policy changes and the failure to make children’s health a priority have undercut bipartisan initiatives and the Affordable Care Act, which had propelled our nation forward on children’s health coverage,” said Alker, executive director of the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families and a research professor at the McCourt School of Public Policy. “This serious erosion of child health coverage is due in large part to the Trump Administration’s actions or inactions that have made health coverage harder to access and have deterred families from enrolling their eligible children in Medicaid and CHIP.”


The child uninsured rate increased from 4.7 percent to 5.2 percent between 2016 and 2018. Coverage losses were widespread, with 15 states showing statistically significant increases in the number and/or rate of uninsured children, including North Carolina.


“As a pediatrician, I understand first-hand how important health insurance coverage is to my patients; it helps ensure children can receive the care and services they need, when they need them,” said Lanre Falusi, MD, national spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics. “The findings in this report are deeply concerning to me. For children who are uninsured, I worry about the critical services they are missing out on and what it will mean for their short- and long-term health. Our federal leaders must advance policies that ensure children can get the health care they need to grow up healthy and thrive.”


The loss of children’s health coverage was most pronounced for whites and Latinos, some of whom may fall into both categories and children under six years of age. The loss was concentrated among low- and moderate-income families between 138 percent and 250 percent of the federal poverty level, or $29,000 to $53,000 a year for a family of three.
The majority of uninsured children, researchers found, are eligible for Medicaid or CHIP but aren't enrolled.


“This is a very troubling trend and mainly due to the fact that children are losing Medicaid and CHIP coverage,” Alker said. “The decline in health coverage occurred at a time when children should have been gaining coverage in the private market and is a red flag for policymakers as even more children would likely lose coverage in an economic downturn.”


Southern states have a disproportionately large share of uninsured kids relative to their child population. Texas has the largest proportion of uninsured children and is home to more than one in five uninsured children in the U.S.


Three-quarters of the children who lost coverage between 2016-18 live in states that have not expanded Medicaid to low-income adults. The uninsured rate for children in those states increased at three times the rate of those in states that had expanded.

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