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Study: Medicaid Coverage Makes Kids Healthier for Life

Medicaid turns 50 this week, and a new report from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families shows that when children are covered by Medicaid, it brings them benefits for life. Credit: atleta/Pixabay.com
Medicaid turns 50 this week, and a new report from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families shows that when children are covered by Medicaid, it brings them benefits for life. Credit: atleta/Pixabay.com
July 29, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Medicaid turns 50 this week, and a new report from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families shows that when children are covered by Medicaid, it brings them benefits for life.

In Arkansas, slightly more than half of people using Medicaid are children. The report found that kids covered by Medicaid were less likely to drop out of school, less likely to have high blood pressure and emergency health issues as adults, and more likely to see incomes higher than those of their parents.

Report co-author Joan Alker, the Georgetown Center's executive director, called it interesting data.

"It's showing that when these kids grow up, there are so many ways in which Medicaid has benefited them," she said. "Their health is better, their educational success is better, and their economic outcomes are improved."

The report also noted that as Medicaid eligibility has been expanded over the years, the rate of uninsured children has declined.

Marquita Little, health policy consultant at Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, said the data proves the lasting impacts of healthy beginnings for kids.

"It's extremely important that we continue to support the program," she said, "because it ensures that every single child in our state has the opportunity for a healthy future."

Medicaid has been the subject of contentious debate in Arkansas and nationally. Alker said the program has adapted over the years and hasn't always been subject to the kind of partisan bickering going on today.

"I hope we can move beyond that," she said. "The value of these studies is to actually look at the numbers - and what all of these studies show is that Medicaid is providing an incredibly valuable service to kids, and that the taxpayers are getting a great return on their investment."

The report is online at ccf.georgetown.edu.

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