***For Immediate Release ***
February 15, 2023
Child Uninsured Rate Could Rise Sharply if Ohio Doesn’t Act to Protect Children’s Coverage
48.3% of Ohio children are now insured through Medicaid and Healthy Start thanks to federal pandemic protections, but health coverage disruptions lie ahead as redeterminations begin
Columbus, OH — Medicaid and Healthy Start successfully brought down the child uninsured rate and proved to be a critical lifeline for more than 48% of Ohio’s children during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families at the McCourt School of Public Policy. The report examines state-by-state growth in enrollment in Medicaid and Healthy Start, which are both public health insurance programs. Healthy Start refers to the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for families that earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to buy private insurance. The report highlights the increases in enrollment during the pandemic and explains that millions of children who are still eligible for Medicaid or CHIP are at risk of losing coverage when pandemic protections go away on April 1. By law, Ohioans with Medicaid and Healthy Start health insurance have kept their coverage since March 2020.
“Medicaid and Healthy Start covers nearly half of the children in our state,” said Kelly Vyzral, Senior Health Policy Associate at the Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio. “As we begin the process of redetermining eligibility for the first time in three years, we must pay particular attention to children’s needs to minimize the number of children who lose coverage.”
Nationally, the report finds that 54 percent of all children are covered through Medicaid or CHIP. The report also shows that in Ohio, Medicaid and Healthy Start enrollment grew by 26.7% from February 2020 to August 2022, with children making up 25.6% of this growth. Nationwide, an estimated 72 percent of children losing Medicaid will remain eligible, and Latino and Black children are at greater risk of inappropriately losing coverage.
The recently enacted Consolidated Appropriations Act phases down the enhanced federal Medicaid funding for states over the course of 2023 while states resume regular Medicaid renewal processes. Ohio has until May 2024 to complete the unprecedented task of conducting Medicaid eligibility checks for most of the people enrolled in Medicaid and Healthy Start including more than 1.3 million children.
For the past three years, federal continuous coverage protections have shielded Ohio families from administrative red tape and bureaucratic snafus that have historically led to thousands of children falling on and off coverage over the course of the year.
“Medicaid and Healthy Start is essential to Ohio kids. If we don’t dedicate the time and resources necessary to protect children from falling through the cracks, the uninsured rate for Ohio children could more than double” said Vyzral. “The best way to avoid having your child’s insurance cancelled is to make sure your contact information is updated by calling your local benefits office or online through your Medicaid patient portal, and pay close attention to the notices received in the mail. We are also encouraging lawmakers to make the program more family friendly by implementing continuous eligibility for young children. Families with young children have enough on their plates. We can ease their burden by eliminating the redetermination process altogether for children under six.”
About Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio
The Children’s Defense Fund Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities.
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