Today we released a report with some encouraging news for America’s children and families. Our report found that despite the fact that childhood poverty remained high, the number of uninsured children declined last year. This builds on the good news on young adult coverage gains reported in September.
The Affordable Care Act was behind the young adult success story and it deserves some of the credit for the good news on children. A strong Medicaid and CHIP program led to the improvements in coverage rates for kids and the ACA held those programs steady in tough times – in effect protecting children by ensuring that eligibility levels would not be cut.
Tara Mancini, Martha Heberlein and I conducted the study by examining American Community Survey data from 2009-2011. Here’s what we found:
- Twenty states showed significant declines in uninsurance rates for children.
- Texas and Oregon led the nation with declines of 3.1 percentage points, with Florida close behind at 2.9 percentage points. (For some of these states, such as Texas and Florida, it was easier to make progress because they started with such a high rate of uninsured children.)
- Nevada has the highest rate of uninsured children (16.2 percent).
- Half of the nation’s uninsured children live in just six states: Texas, California, Florida, Georgia, Arizona, and New York.
- Nationwide, Hispanic and school-aged children were disproportionately uninsured as well as those living in rural areas.
States can make the next big leap forward for kids by taking advantage of the generous federal support to extend health coverage to low-income parents and adults through Medicaid. Research has shown that covering parents is good for children as families enroll in coverage together and children are more likely to receive preventive services and other care they need.
Let’s double down on our efforts to strengthen Medicaid and make sure younger Americans reach the 99% coverage rate of older Americans. And remember, kids don’t have to wait until 2014 — because two-thirds of uninsured children are eligible but unenrolled in Medicaid or CHIP. States can move forward to reduce red tape and reach out to enroll children today.