Child Enrollment in Public Health Programs Fell by 600K Last Year


By: Michael Ollove

The number of kids enrolled in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) — two government health plans for the poor — fell by nearly 600,000 in the first 11 months of 2018, a precipitous drop that has puzzled and alarmed many health policy analysts, while several states say it reflects the good news of an improving economy.

Many analysts point first to the uncertainty over the future of the Affordable Care Act since Trump became president. Repeated but unsuccessful efforts by Republicans in Congress to repeal the ACA caused public confusion, which probably diminished enrollment in Medicaid, CHIP and Obamacare health insurance plans, said Joan Alker, executive director of the Center for Children and Families at Georgetown University. And Congress failed to meet deadlines to reauthorize funding for CHIP in 2017, which prompted several states to prepare for the program’s shutdown. “There has been a lot of confusion out there among families,” Alker said.

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