Newly released census data show rate of uninsured children increased in 2019

| October 13, 2020

Newly released data from the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) show more Arizona children became uninsured 2019. These losses are likely associated with policy decisions and funding cuts that deter families from accessing care and undermine our public health care systems. As a result, Black, indigenous, and children of color are losing health coverage at an alarming rate.

Despite a flourishing economy during the survey period, the rate and number of children without health insurance increased. Sadly, many experts assume that many more have lost access to employer-sponsored health coverage as a result of the pandemic.   

The new data shows Arizona ranked 48th out of 50 states and Washington DC for the rate of children with health insurance. Nationally, 5.7 percent of children were uninsured in 2019; however, in Arizona, 9.2 percent of children did not have health coverage in 2019. That equates to 161,000 uninsured children.

A new report by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families explores why, after several years of progress, the rate of uninsured children is heading in the wrong direction. They cite three primary drivers:  

  1. Anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies, such as the Public Charge rule, have had a chilling effect on enrollment in health care and other supports for foreign-born and mixed-status families.  
  1. “Red tape” and other administrative barriers (such as more frequent eligibility checks) may contribute to coverage loss.  
  1. Funding cuts to health insurance outreach and enrollment and efforts to undermine the Affordable Care Act.
Arizona’s leaders can and should take steps to reverse this harmful trend:  

  • Adopt the Immigrant Children’s Health Improvement Act (ICHIA) option to provide Medicaid and CHIP coverage to lawful permanent resident children who have been in the US for fewer than 5 years. 
  • Create funding pathways to provide coverage to all Arizonans, regardless of documentation status.
  • Increase KidsCare income eligibility to at least 250 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (the US median) and explore Medicaid and CHIP buy-in options.
  • Leverage state funds to promote ACA Marketplace health coverage to more children and families.  

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Category: Education

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