- A child’s brain develops rapidly in the earliest years of life, building a foundation for future health. Medicaid plays a crucial part in meeting young children's developmental needs.
- Medicaid/CHIP - serving nearly half of all young children - are an essential piece of the puzzle to ensuring children's healthy development.
In This Report:
- Prioritizing young children in Medicaid through cross-sector, innovative practice change has the potential to improve their lifetime trajectories, overall population health and long-run savings.
A child’s brain develops most rapidly in the earliest years of life, building the foundation for learning, behavior and health. Medicaid—as the primary source of health coverage for young, low-income children— is a logical system to reach families with young children and set them on a path of healthy physical, social, and emotional development. Any effort to improve young children’s healthy development should intentionally involve Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Medicaid, along with CHIP, serves four out of five young children in poverty. Yet Medicaid can do more to elevate the needs of these children. Prioritizing young children in Medicaid through cross-sector, innovative practice change has the potential to improve their lifetime trajectories, overall population health and long-run savings.
This paper examines ways for state and federal policymakers to use Medicaid and CHIP to more effectively put young children on the best path for success in school and in life. These include:
- Prioritize the health of parents and caregivers as key players in children’s healthy development.
- Maintain continuous, consistent health coverage for young children and their families. Start by ensuring no newborn leaves the hospital without coverage.
- Measure and ensure that young children receive the full range of preventive care and treatment they need under Medicaid’s comprehensive pediatric benefit (EPSDT).
- Support expert-recommended, research-based interventions that meet the developmental needs of young children.
- Invest in prevention and pediatric care innovation.