Legislative Roundup: Eight states now committed to multi-year continuous eligibility for young children as Colorado, Minnesota and Ohio pass new legislation

The unwinding continues to dramatically showcase children’s loss of health care despite the fact that most likely remain eligible. Amid the worse-than-expected disenrollments among children due to red tape and insufficient communication, one bright spot is that more states are seeking CMS approval to reduce administrative burden on families by adopting 2-to-5 year continuous eligibility (CE) for young children to ensure the youngest children don’t lose access to health coverage during the high-stakes years of rapid development before kindergarten. While we are eager to learn from the experiences of Oregon and Washington as they implement the new eligibility periods, we are excited to see more states advancing the new policy. During this year’s state legislative sessions, lawmakers added a few states to the waiver development mix: 

  • Colorado (3 years, up to age 4, also includes a state feasibility study looking at extending to age 6.)
  • Minnesota (5 years, up to age 6)
  • Ohio (3 years, up to age 4)

As the map below highlights, this brings our tally of states actively moving to multi-year CE to eight (shown in dark and light green):

We expect momentum will continue into next year’s state legislative sessions. Lawmakers in Rhode Island and Montana also debated multi-year continuous eligibility for young children and Texas and Maryland lawmakers introduced similar measures. Just last week DC Councilmember Christina Henderson introduced legislation to provide continuous coverage to children in Medicaid, CHIP and the Immigrant Children’s Program until age 6, which may come up for debate later this year. While it’s too late to help protect children from losing coverage today, this momentum is a hopeful sign that lawmakers are paying attention to the impact of the unwinding on children’s coverage and want to find solutions to the intolerable situation of eligible children falling through the cracks. We will keep tracking these developments and hope more state legislatures will return to this topic in 2024 as they learn more about the gaps in health care many children are set to experience as they unnecessarily lose coverage. 

Elisabeth Wright Burak is a Senior Fellow at the Georgetown University McCourt School of Public Policy’s Center for Children and Families.