Researchers say it’s an unsettling trend after years of the number going in the opposite direction
For the first time in nearly 10 years, the number of uninsured children in America is going up. A recent study puts the number of kids without health insurance at 276,000 after President Trump’s first year in office.
“For the past eight years, CCF has published a report tracking health coverage rates for children across the country. This year, for the first time since we began writing this report, the number and rate of uninsured children in the United States went up,” reads a study from Georgetown University. Extended coverage through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) has meant declining rates of uninsured children for years, but thanks to GOP-led efforts to keep states from Medicaid expansion, the trend is reversing — in the wrong direction.
Researchers also blame Trump’s anti-immigration stance saying that many families are too worried about complicating ongoing immigration proceedings to sign up for government-backed health coverage.
“This constellation of national trends has likely created an ‘unwelcome mat’ effect where families are unaware of their options or deterred from seeking coverage,” says the University.
The report found that the number of kids without coverage was higher in certain states — particularly states that opted not to expand Medicaid under Obama-era healthcare law. One such state is Texas, where 80,000 kids were uninsured in 2017 as compared to 2016.
Adriana Kohler is a senior health policy associate for Texans Care for Children and calls the results of the study “devastating.”
“It’s not just about the numbers,” she says. “It’s a disturbing report for every Texan who wants kids to get eye glasses, mental health treatment and vision and hearing checks.”
“Insuring people is not why we have a health care system,” the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation wrote recently in possibly the most confusing statement about health care of all time ever. “The purpose is to get timely care to the most people at a price we all can afford.”
Georgetown calls the new trend “troubling” and “unprecedented” noting that the number of uninsured little ones came during a time of economic growth. If anything, the number of uninsured kids should’ve gone down in 2017 considering how many more people were employed and able to provide insurance for their families through their jobs.
“I’ve written this report for eight years in a row now, and I found it even more notable that no state, except for the District of Columbia, saw any measurable progress in reducing the number of uninsured children in 2017. Never before have we seen such uniformity in state behavior,” the report reads.
Bottom line? Whatever anyone’s political leanings, it’s simply cruel to think that any child doesn’t deserve healthcare coverage. The fact that the current political climate and vitriol toward immigrants can be even partly blamed for the increasing number of kids without coverage is disgusting. It begs the question — are we great again yet?