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USA: Why are so many kids losing Medicaid coverage?

At the end of the COVID pandemic, more than half (54%) of US children were covered by Medicaid or CHIP; the vast majority by Medicaid. So, the lifting of the pandemic-related Medicaid continuous enrolment protection this spring is a really big deal, putting low-income children at risk of losing access to health care and/or exposing their families to medical debt.

In fact, researchers at federal Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) projected that just shy of three-quarters of children losing Medicaid would be disenrolled despite remaining eligible. Children are most at risk of losing coverage during the unwinding despite being eligible and the likelihood that the child uninsured rate will go up if states do not take care in the process.

Over half a million children have lost Medicaid already in 21 states where there is data. And that large number doesn’t include Texas, a state that disenrolled more than 500,000 people on June 1st, and where state agency employees recently blew the whistle on systems errors that caused inappropriate terminations.

The Biden Administration must take swift and definitive action to pause all terminations in states with systemic problems. Governors who see large numbers of children losing coverage must pause the process. Coverage must be reinstated for those who lose coverage inappropriately. The time for action to protect children is now.

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Source: McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University, 23 August 2023


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