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Report: Parents are Punished When States Don’t Accept Medicaid

PHOTO: Parenthood comes with a disadvantage for low-income families in Idaho when it comes to health insurance because the state has rejected federal Medicaid funding. Photo credit: Microsoft Images
PHOTO: Parenthood comes with a disadvantage for low-income families in Idaho when it comes to health insurance because the state has rejected federal Medicaid funding. Photo credit: Microsoft Images
September 10, 2014

BOISE, Idaho - Parenthood comes with a disadvantage for many low-income families in Idaho when it comes to health insurance. A new report from the Urban Institute shows when states accepted federal Medicaid funding, the insured rate for parents jumped by 33 percent and Medicaid gets part of the credit. There is no change for states, including Idaho, that have rejected the federal funding. Lauren Necochea, director of Idaho Kids Count, explains the gap.

"A single, childless worker at minimum wage qualifies for help to purchase coverage. If that same worker has a child, the family falls below the poverty level," Necochea says. "Parents who fall below the poverty level are often ineligible for help getting covered."

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's Medicaid Redesign Work Group recently recommended the state accept the funding. A similar group appointed by the governor made the same recommendation last year. Accepting the federal money would make health insurance available to about 100,000 Idahoans.

Genevieve Kenney, co-director in the Health Policy Center at the Urban Institute, issued the report. She says the importance to families has been overlooked in states rejecting the federal Medicaid money.

"There's been so much focus on the politics of the Affordable Care Act," Kenney says. "Maybe not quite as much focus on the human dimension, and what is at stake for families."

The report argues, health coverage for parents is good news for the entire family because it results in fewer unpaid medical bills and when parents are healthier, they are better able to support their families.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - ID