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Report: Utah Among Worst in Nation for Uninsured Latino Children

Utah has one of the worst records in the United States for enrolling Latino children in health insurance, according to a new report. (kathyyeulet/iStockphoto)
January 15. 2016
Utah has one of the worst records in the United States for enrolling Latino children in health insurance, according to a new report. (kathyyeulet/iStockphoto)

SALT LAKE CITY - Utah has one of the worst records in the country on insuring Latino children, according to a report issued today from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families and the National Council of La Raza.

The state has 85,000 uninsured children, and 36,000 of them - about 43 percent - are Hispanic. Jessie Mandle, a health policy analyst for Voices for Utah Children, said the vast majority of these children are U.S. citizens who qualify for Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program but are not enrolled.

"Families and parents may not know about their options," she said, "which is why we think that Utah should restore funding for outreach, so that more families can learn about their options."

There are solutions. Mandle said Utah also should remove the five-year waiting period for legally residing immigrant children to get Medicaid and then allow kids on Medicaid to stay on it for a year at a time, even if their parents make more money temporarily at a seasonal job.

Nationally, the report said, the number of uninsured Hispanic children is at a historic low, decreasing by 15 percent from 2013 to 2014. Sonya Schwartz, a policy fellow at the Georgetown Center, said the drop was most dramatic in states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

"Hispanic adults actually had some of the highest un-insurance rates in the entire country," she said. "And so, as Hispanic adults gain coverage through the Medicaid expansion, the states that did that seem to have had better results in also covering Hispanic children."

The report also found that Hispanic children are one-and-a-half times more likely to be uninsured than all kids in the United States, but noted that the gap is narrowing.

The report is online at ccf.georgetown.edu.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - UT