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Report: Minnesota Shrinks Number of Uninsured Kids

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015   

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Minnesota saw significant gains when it comes to getting children access to health insurance, according to new research.

A report from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families showed that Minnesota had a nearly 32 percent drop in the number of uninsured children from 2013 - among the sharpest declines in the nation.

Elaine Cunningham, outreach director for Children's Defense Fund Minnesota, said the state's Medicaid expansion helped a lot.

"Also, we saw a pickup in the private market with all of the outreach around health care," she said. "People knew that there was more financial assistance available, so they came to the exchange to find insurance."

Nationally, the number of uninsured children dropped to a historic low of 6 percent last year. The report noted that much of that is due to changes under the Affordable Care Act, including Medicaid expansion.

Joan Alker, executive director of the Center for Children and Families, said Minnesota and other states that opted to expand their Medicaid coverage saw the biggest drops.

"Many people don't think about Medicaid expansion as a kids' issue, but we know from past research that covering parents results in what we call a strong 'welcome mat' effect for kids," she said. "That means when the parent learns about their own coverage opportunity, they may learn their child is also eligible."

The report lists Minnesota as 12th in the nation for its rate of children without health-care coverage. While Cunningham said that is a positive step, she stressed that there is still more the state can do to help its remaining 49,000 uninsured children.

"I think, going forward, we need to do even a better job of targeting our outreach to reach the populations that we know are remaining uninsured," she said.

That includes the state's Hispanic population, one of the fastest growing in the country. According to the Georgetown report, Hispanic children nationally make up a disproportionate number of the uninsured.

The report is online at ccf.georgetown.edu.


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