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Nevada Makes Historic Gains In Getting Children Insured

53,000 children in Nevada have gotten health insurance since the state expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. (dmarshall/iStockphoto)
53,000 children in Nevada have gotten health insurance since the state expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. (dmarshall/iStockphoto)
September 26, 2017

CARSON CITY, Nev. – Nevada has now hit a historic high - for the percentage of children who have health insurance, according to a new report.

Researchers from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families found that about 4,000 additional kids got insurance between 2015 and 2016, an 8-percent improvement. And since 2013, 53,000 kids have become insured, but that still leaves 46,000 without insurance.

Denise Tanata, executive director of the Children's Advocacy Alliance, says if the latest GOP bill to repeal Obamacare, called Graham-Cassidy - passes - the problem would get much worse.

"We think it will be devastating for the country and particularly for the state of Nevada," she warns. "We have seen such an increase in the rate of insured kids in the state of Nevada since the implementation of ACA and Medicaid expansion. Cassidy-Graham will just obliterate that progress and, from the projections we're seeing, set us back even further than we were prior."

Nevada Senator Dean Heller is a co-sponsor of Graham-Cassidy. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and Gov. Brian Sandoval oppose the bill because the state would lose billions in federal funding now being used to provide health care to low-income families.

Joan Alker, author of the report and executive director of the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, says a repeal of the ACA and massive cuts to Medicaid would not lower premiums or the costs borne by the state.

"Medicaid is not the driver of health care costs," she says. "It's things like prescription drugs going up. So I'm sure that governors would like new tools that would allow them to control costs but they're not getting any of those new tools, so they are left holding the bag."

In addition, funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program, known as CHIP, is in jeopardy, because it expires on September 30. A bipartisan deal to renew it has been proposed, but Congress has not yet scheduled a vote.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - NV