A new report from Georgetown University, highlighted by Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, says the number of children without health insurance is on the rise nationally and in Arkansas.
Four million were uninsured nationwide in 2018, the largest number since the Affordable Care Act expanded coverage in 2014, the summary said. Also:
In Arkansas, approximately 34,000 children (4.5 percent of all kids in the state) were uninsured in 2018, up from around 30,000 in 2016. This 13.3 percent increase in the number of uninsured children in our state shows a reversal of years of progress and took place during a period of economic growth when children should be gaining health coverage
The report finds the following factors have contributed to the erosion in children’s health coverage nationwide: efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and cut Medicaid; delays in funding the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP); elimination of the individual mandate penalty; cuts to enrollment outreach and advertising; inadequate oversight over state Medicaid programs that have created more red tape barriers; and the creation of a climate of fear and confusion for immigrant families that discourages them from enrolling eligible children in Medicaid or CHIP.
“This news, combined with the fact that enrollment in Medicaid and CHIP is down 9,000 kids over the past 18 months, is another troubling sign for kids’ health coverage after decades of progress,” said Loretta Alexander, health policy director at Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families. “Arkansas needs to take a hard look at the data behind these coverage losses and increase outreach to families to ensure their eligible children have access to health care.”
Many uninsured children are eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program but are not currently enrolled.
Declines in coverage of any sort of health care are not a problem for the Hutchinson administration. They are a plus because of expenditure eductions.