Senate Repeal Bill More Than Doubles Number of Uninsured Kids

The “Better Care Reconciliation Act” a.k.a. the Senate’s proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and cut Medicaid would result in a sharp U-turn in the nation’s historic progress on children’s health coverage. Our nation recently brought the uninsured rate for children down to a record low of less than 5%.  A new analysis from the Urban Institute finds that the number of uninsured children would increase to 7.7 million in 2022 nationwide – spiking the uninsured rate for children up to 9.5%. This means that over four million children would lose their health insurance coverage if this bill were to be enacted as compared to leaving the current law in place.

As readers of SayAhhh! know, the rate of uninsured kids has been on a steady decline for some time thanks to Medicaid, CHIP and the ACA. But these cuts aren’t just about repealing the ACA – when the ACA was enacted in 2014 the uninsured rate for kids was 6 percent. An uninsured rate of 9.5% would roll back that progress on top of all the progress that was made since CHIPRA was enacted in 2009 – progress that has had bipartisan support nationwide.

Children’s coverage losses would be felt in states across the nation with the largest numbers of children being impacted in Texas (295,00 children), Florida (286,000) and California (539,000). States that have done a really good job in reducing their uninsured children would see some of the sharpest increases in their uninsured rate.  West Virginia would see the largest increase in percentage terms suffering a 456% increase in the number of uninsured children if the BCRA becomes law.

Cutting children off of their health insurance coverage is mean spirited and short-sighted. Insurance not only ensures that children have access to needed preventive and acute care, it also enhances their prospects in school and in life. Having insurance allows kids to play on their school’s baseball team without fear of an injury sending them to the ER and the debt collector.

Joan Alker is the Executive Director of the Center for Children and Families and a Research Professor at the Georgetown McCourt School of Public Policy.