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Health, Science and Environment

Rates of uninsured children hit its highest peak in nearly a decade

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Medicaid rollbacks and decreases in federal funding for Affordable Care Act outreach programs increase rates of uninsured children across the country.

Despite economic growth, nearly four million children nationwide are uninsured. A study released by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families this week shows the rate of uninsured children in 2017 increased by zero-point-three percent. While this number may seem small, it translates to over a quarter of a million children.

Officials said Medicaid rollbacks in many states, as well as a decrease in federal funding for Affordable Care Act outreach programs, have contributed to the increase.

Joan Alker is the executive director of the Center for Children and Families. She said this increase is extremely unusual.

“This is really unprecedented. We’ve been writing this report for a decade and we’ve never seen the number go in the wrong direction like this,” she said, “Because we have a low unemployment rate and good economy, we would’ve expected the number to go down, but unfortunately what happened is even though more kids did have coverage through their parents’ jobs, we saw a decline in public coverage sources for kids.”

Alker said the 2017 increase brought the national average up to five percent. She said while states like Michigan have a lower uninsured rate and have passed Medicaid expansion, their residents are still at risk for coverage decreases.

 

“Michigan has a better performance for kids than the national average, you’ve got  just three percent of kids uninsured, but the legislator did pass some new rules that potentially could set that number back,” she said “So, it’s important as elected officials think about this issue to make sure there’s no red tape around your Medicaid program for families.”

Alker says some of these new Medicaid rules passed by the Michigan legislature include required work hours and higher premiums.

Even with the potential for decreased coverage, she said Michigan is better off than many states, such as Texas, where the rate is 21 percent. Alker says the rate of uninsured kids increased trifold in states that have not expanded Medicaid. She says in 2017 increased rates of uninsured children were seen across the country, with the exception of Washington D.C.