HCN News & Notes

Children’s Health and Medical Groups React to Decline in Medicaid, CHIP Enrollment

WASHINGTON, D.C. — New data show that the number of children enrolled in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) nationwide fell by about 840,000 in 2018. 

In response to these numbers, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Children’s Defense Fund, the Children’s Dental Health Project, the Children’s Hospital Assoc., Family Voices, First Focus on Children, Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, the March of Dimes, and the National Assoc. of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners issued the following statement:

“After years of progress improving children’s health and dental coverage, we are losing ground, and children are suffering the consequences. Nearly one-third of America’s children rely on Medicaid and CHIP for comprehensive, affordable coverage, including children in foster care, children who live in or near poverty, and children with disabilities or special healthcare needs. These are the children who need coverage the most. For these kids, no coverage often means no care. 

“The number of children enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP fell by over 840,000 nationwide. Enrollment losses of this magnitude are especially concerning at a time when the United States is facing numerous public-health crises, such as the largest measles outbreak in decades, an opioid epidemic, and staggering rates of adolescent suicide.

“Children’s coverage is susceptible to changes in federal and state policies and operations, and efforts to undermine Medicaid and CHIP have created uncertainty and unnecessary barriers to accessing coverage. This leaves children worse off and less likely to be enrolled, jeopardizing their long-term health. In 2017, the number of uninsured children increased for the first time in almost a decade, with 276,000 more U.S. children becoming uninsured. While 2018 insurance rates are not available yet, the dramatic decline in Medicaid and CHIP enrollment in 2018 cannot be ignored. 

“We must act quickly to keep Medicaid and CHIP strong and connect children with the health and dental coverage they need to succeed. States have made historic gains in covering children, but with coverage rates stalling or moving backwards in most states, we must double down on efforts to reach and enroll eligible children, focus on system improvements to keep them covered, and ensure that parents have health insurance so that they can keep themselves and their families healthy.”