Why Are There More Uninsured Kids?

Ms. Seema Verma is the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. She is the over seer of Trump’s attempts to repeal the ACA. She is smiling now as there has been a reduction in the numbers of people enrolled in public healthcare such as Medicaid and CHIPS. Why did this occur? States having work requirements for Medicaid, adding more red tape to the application process, cutbacks in in outreach and enrollment funds by the Administration, and instill fear, a chilling purposeful effect, to cause immigrant and mixed-status families to not enroll and even withdraw their children from Medicaid/CHIP. The fear of being deported or given a lower status because you are dependent upon Medicaid and other government programs does much to keep them away and in hiding.

Georgetown University Health Policy Institute, Center for Children and Families sorts through the data provided by the Census Bureau in one of its Current Population Surveys. The Bureau actually released a mini-special report focusing on children, “Uninsured Rate for Children Increases To 5.5% in 2018.” The percentage represents a loss of  ~425,000 insured by these programs or 0.6 percentage points decrease from the previous year. A job well done by Administrator Verma.

Joan Alker: What do we know about the kids who have higher uninsured rates?

  • Hispanic children saw a large jump of 1 percentage point from 7.7% to 8.7%. White children were the other racial category to see a statistically significant increase, clear evidence of impact of the Administration’s ongoing campaign of hostility and intimidation directed at immigrant families and the recent issuance of the public charge rule will only make this worse. Many of the children are born in America citizens who have immigrant parents.
  • Young children (age 0-5) saw a large increase as well with their uninsured rate jumping from 4.5% to 5.3%. Without healthcare, a young child’s health care needs are less likely to be met and this is especially troubling when they are in this critical time period when a child’s brain develops rapidly and is building a foundation for future educational and economic success.  Regular visits to a pediatrician for checkups helps children in being healthy and disease and disorders are caught early on in the development.
  • Children in the South are the worst off regionally and saw the highest increases in uninsured jumping from 6.5% as a region to 7.7%. As can be expected, southern states such as Texas, Florida, and Georgia have some of the highest rates of uninsured children in the country already.

More data on the impact of the new polices will be available month end when more American Community Survey looks at the state specific changes for children.

Three main Causes for the increased uninsured:

  •  As I mentioned earlier, mixed families with parents being legal or illegal immigrants and the children citizens. People are afraid of being deported or having their children snatched from them. No prior modern administration has ever separated children from their parents unless their was an overwhelming need to do so such as healthcare.
  •  The administration and Congress’s cuts in outreach and enrollment funding to undermine ACA, one of Barack Obama’s achievements and Trump’s failure to repeal.  Outreach grants for CHIP were delayed significantly by the purposeful congressional funding CHIP till the end of 2017. CHIP was not accepting new enrollments due to a lack of funding and some states cut back. People missed the deadlines as a result. Another purposeful ploy.
  •  Besides ignoring the problems on the increased uninsured rates for children, Seema Verma and CMS are supporting state efforts to tighten up eligibility in CHIP and put in place  stricter verification procedures causing eligible children to lose coverage.

More to Come on What Can be Done.

Why are There More Uninsured Kids and What Can We Do About It?,” Center for Children and Families, Joan Alker, September 12, 2019.

Children’s Public Health Insurance Coverage Lower Than in 2017,” US Census Bureau, Edward R. Berchick and Laryssa Mykyta, September 10, 2019.

Bill H – run75441