Virginia is not keeping up with other states in addressing an important aspect of childhood health – decreasing the numbers of uninsured children, according to a new report by Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, Voices for Virginia’s Children, and The Commonwealth Institute.
Virginia, once a leader in efforts to get children covered, has more than 107,000 children without health insurance. Between 2013 and 2014 uninsured rates among children dropped significantly in 24 states. The rate in Virginia however showed no significant change.
Researchers at Georgetown University say accepting the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid option for uninsured adults would be the single most effective policy change Virginia’s leaders could make to help the state get back on track in reducing the number of uninsured children. A new report finds that if Virginia decided to accept Medicaid dollars and close this coverage gap nearly one third (29 percent) of the population newly eligible for coverage would be parents with children present in the home.
“Research has shown that covering parents directly benefits children,” said Joan Alker, executive director of Georgetown University research center. “Children simply are more likely to gain their own coverage when their parents become eligible for Medicaid.”
Ashley Everette of Voices for Virginia’s Children agreed. “Virginia policymakers need to find a way that works for Virginia to accept federal funding to offer health insurance to more uninsured parents and other adults.”
“The current system is very, very flawed. Previously, I had thyroid cancer, and I still have to take medication that costs me $120 per month. I had no idea it would be so hard to get health insurance,” said Melyssa Dove of Culpepper, a single working mom who is uninsured with 3 children.
“Children thrive when their parents are healthy and economically secure so improvements in health coverage for parents really benefit the whole family,” said Massey Whorley, Senior Policy Analyst at The Commonwealth Institute. “Closing the coverage gap would offer parents the affordable care they need to stay healthy and financial stability if the parents get sick or hurt.”
In Virginia, the majority (68 percent) of parents with children who would benefit from expanded Medicaid eligibility have a family member employed outside the home and one-fifth (20 percent) are from families with two working parents in the home. The top industries where these parents are working include restaurants, retail, and construction.
Cathy Hope, Georgetown University Center for Children and Families
(703) 887-828; firstname.lastname@example.org
Ashley Everette, Policy Analyst
Coordinator, Campaign for Children’s Mental Health
Voices for Virginia’s Children
701 E. Franklin St., Suite 807
Richmond, VA 23219
804.649.0184 ext. 26