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Medicaid at 50: The Value of Covering Ohio Kids

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Medicaid marks its 50th year of providing health coverage to low-income children. Credit: Hubert Hackett/Flickr
Medicaid marks its 50th year of providing health coverage to low-income children. Credit: Hubert Hackett/Flickr
July 28, 2015

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Over one million Ohio children – about 46 percent – receive visits to the doctor, prescriptions and other medical care through Medicaid, and a new report underscores the lifelong value of the program as it turns 50 this week.

Report co-author Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, says the study compiles research gathered over the last several years on the lives of individuals who received Medicaid as children in the 1980s and 90s.

"What's so interesting about this new research is it's showing that when these kids grow up, there are so many ways Medicaid has benefited them," says Alker. "Their health is better, their educational success is better and their economic outcomes are improved."

The study found that children covered by Medicaid had lower rates of drinking and smoking as teenagers, plus lower rates of obesity and fewer hospital visits as adults.

Some governors and legislatures are still opposed to the idea of expanding Medicaid in their states, citing its federal ties and cost to taxpayers.

Sandy Oxley, CEO of Voices for Ohio's Children, says the investments Ohio has made over the last 50 years to support children's health coverage has been essential to their growth – and to the future of the state.

"Investing in children's health and economic security today is a smart use of taxpayer dollars that helps build a healthier, better-educated workforce for tomorrow," she says.

The report also found that Americans enrolled in public health programs as children had higher incomes as adults, and required fewer tax subsidies.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH