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Report: Medicaid Cuts Would Hit Rural Areas Hardest

Nevada showed the biggest decrease in its numbers of uninsured rural children in the nation, according to a new report. (Cathy Yeulet/iStockphoto)
Nevada showed the biggest decrease in its numbers of uninsured rural children in the nation, according to a new report. (Cathy Yeulet/iStockphoto)
June 8, 2017

CARSON CITY, Nev. -- Nevada's rural areas have gained the most from the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act and have the most to lose if Medicaid sees massive cuts, according to a new report from Georgetown University's Center for Children and Families.

The report said Nevada had the second-largest increase in the country in numbers of children covered by Medicaid and CHIP in small towns and rural areas - and the biggest decrease in its rate of uninsured rural children. Denise Tanata, executive director at the Children's Advocacy Alliance of Nevada, said she credits the Affordable Care Act and the state's expansion of Medicaid.

“We've seen a 14 percent decline in uninsured children in small towns and rural areas here,” Tanata said. “So we're seeing significant progress for our kids."

And among rural adults, Nevada posted the sixth-largest percentage increase in those covered by Medicaid, and the third-largest decrease in the uninsured rate.

Tanata warned that those gains could evaporate if the GOP health plan, with its huge cuts to Medicaid, becomes law. The plan, called the American Health Care Act, is currently being renegotiated in the U.S. Senate.

Joan Alker, research professor and executive director at the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, said the research confirms the entire economy benefits when children are healthy.

"We know that children who have access to health care do better in school; they have higher high school graduation rates, they make more money and use fewer benefits when they're adults,” Alker said. "So, it's really vital for the future of our economy to have children who are healthy and able to show up at school ready to learn."

The report said that 37 percent of kids in rural areas of Nevada rely on Medicaid, compared to 35 percent in the metro areas. And 17 percent of rural adults are Medicaid enrollees, compared to 14 percent in the cities.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - NV