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Louisiana’s Progress Slows in Expanding Health Coverage to Children

November 29, 2018 11:58 AM | Susan East Nelson (Administrator)

Georgetown University Report Shows Nationwide Increase in the Number of Uninsured Children for the First Time in a Decade

After nearly a decade of reducing the number of uninsured children, Louisiana showed little progress in expanding health coverage in past year, according to a new report released by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families.

The state’s rate of uninsured children was 3.1 percent in 2017, below the national average of 5 percent and 12th best among states, the analysis of U.S. Census data shows. An estimated 36,000 children 18 and younger remain uninsured, a drop of 3,000 children from the past year but not a statistically significant change.

“We’re headed in the right direction, but we can’t afford to slow down,” said Susan Nelson, Executive Director of the Louisiana Partnership for Children and Families. “We want to make sure that all children have health coverage.”

The report found that nationwide more than 276,000 children joined the ranks of the uninsured last year, the first significant increase in nearly a decade.

“With an improving economy and low unemployment, the fact that our nation overall is going backwards on children’s health coverage is very troubling,” said Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown University research center and a research professor at the McCourt School of Public Policy. “We see these findings as a red flag and a sign that policymakers need to take action to get back on track.”

Three quarters of the children who lost coverage live in states that have not expanded Medicaid to working families. Nine states saw statistically significant increases in the most recent data. No state, except the District of Columbia, saw significant improvement.

The decline of coverage nationwide comes amid a period when Congress sought to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and cap federal Medicaid funding, as well as a delay in funding renewal for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

“We know that children who have health coverage do better in school and grow up to be healthier more successful adults” said Jan Moller, Executive Director of the Louisiana Budget Project. “Covering their parents means there’s a better chance the children will have insurance, too. This is why Louisiana’s adoption of the Medicaid expansion has been so important for our state’s families.”

Click here to see a breakdown of Louisiana's uninsured children.

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