Urgent Action Required as Number of California Children Without Healthcare Coverage Skyrockets
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, October 14, 2020
California United Ways Sound the Alarm as the Percentage of Children Without Healthcare Coverage in California Continues to Rise
Despite Medi-Cal Expansion and Investments in Covered California the Number of California Children Without Health Care Coverage Has Ballooned by 11 Percent
(Los Angeles, CA) – According to a new report released by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, at least 334,000 California children lacked healthcare coverage in 2019. The number of Americans without health insurance has risen, writ large, since 2016. Yet, Georgetown’s reports confirm the worst fears of California United Ways, and the many anti-poverty and child welfare organizations that joined together to draft, pass, and implement Covering All Children, and Health 4 All Kids, policies less than a decade ago. After making tremendous inroads, and achieving coverage for 95% of California’s children, the percentage of California children without health insurance rose steeply, by approximately 11 percent, between 2016 and 2019. Experts agree that federal actions, such as the change to the public charge rule, are influencing caregivers to either not enroll newly eligible children, and to disenroll, or not-renew coverage for, children already enrolled in publicly subsidized healthcare plans.
California United Ways championed the passage of SB 75 and SB 4 in 2015, and subsequent legislation that achieved no cost or low cost comprehensive healthcare coverage for California’s children through Covered California, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, (CHIP) and the expansion of Medi-Cal (Medicaid). CHIP and Medi-Cal made it possible for 5.7 million California children to enroll in coverage. Past research, especially data studies involving California’s 3 million children under the five years of age, indicated that enrolling children in coverage would reduce hospitalizations, and improve social, emotional, and academic development, especially for children whose parents faced obstacles because of race, immigration status, income, education level, and other variables found to contribute to varying mental and physical health outcomes.
“The coverage gains for children, made since the passage of the Affordable Care Act have evaporated and are forcing us to confront brutal inequities,” said Peter Manzo, President and CEO of United Ways of California. “The uninsured rate in California for Latinx children, of any race, was one-and-a-half times higher than it was for white, non-Latinx children in 2019, to take but one example. Multiple data sources tell us that children with uninterrupted health coverage are more likely to graduate from high school, attend college, and grow up to be healthier, more financially secure adults. If we don’t do everything in our power to turn these problematic trends around, then vulnerable young people will carry structural injustices with them into adulthood. And we will have endangered yet another generation of Californians, instead of doing what we know needs to be done to guarantee no child ever goes without health coverage,” he added.
The increase in the number and rate of uninsured children occurred prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and associated economic downturn. The situation has most likely further deteriorated over the course of 2020 for children in California and across the country, as their parents lost their jobs and health coverage this year. That said, we still lack the full set of data we need to estimate the extent of these coverage losses.
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