A new report released by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families says the number of uninsured children in Arkansas has increased by 43 percent between 2016 and 2019, to about 43,000 children.

Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, in calling attention to the report, says the number is rising nationally and this was before the pandemic increased the ranks of unemployed. The losses are linked to reduction of coverage in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.


Rich Huddleston, head of Arkansas Advocates, said the drop in Arkansas is among the highest in the country. Where 4 percent of Arkansas children were once uninsured, the percentage is now 5.9 percent, above the national average of 5.7 percent, he said. Many are eligible for coverage but aren’t enrolled.

Huddleston blames cuts in outreach and enrollment assistance, which are in line with the national push to undermine or kill the Affordable Care Act. Immigrant families are particularly fearful of engaging with government and red tape discourages others. The Arkansas work requirement, eventually struck down in court also affected children when parents lost coverage. Some have not returned.


The Advocates’ suggestions to reverse the decline:

    • Conduct ARKids First outreach and enrollment, especially targeting immigrant families

    • Adopt continuous eligibility for ARKids A.  One-year continuous eligibility would ensure that a child’s coverage is not terminated within a single year because of fluctuations in family income that are common for low-income families. Arkansas already has this policy in place for children with slightly higher family incomes enrolled in Arkansas Medicaid ARKids-B.

    • Adopt presumptive eligibility for Medicaid for children and pregnant women. Presumptive eligibility would allow Arkansas to temporarily enroll persons in Medicaid while waiting for their full applications to be processed. Presumptive eligibility on a provisional applicational allows the children and pregnant women to begin receiving services immediately without having to wait for the full Medicaid application to be processed.

    • For once and for all, forgetting about work requirements for adults in our Medicaid expansion. They don’t work for adults and they also hurt coverage for kids as parents lose coverage.