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NY Kids’ Insured Rate Stalls, Reversing Longtime Trend

Immigrant children in New York were more likely to be uninsured than other groups in the state in 2017, likely due to parents' fear of interacting with the government. (Sgt. Randall A. Clinton/Marines)
Immigrant children in New York were more likely to be uninsured than other groups in the state in 2017, likely due to parents' fear of interacting with the government. (Sgt. Randall A. Clinton/Marines)
November 29, 2018

ALBANY, N.Y. – Across the country, the number of children without health insurance rose in 2017 for the first time in eight years, according to a new report from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families.

The research found no state made progress to get more children insured between 2016 and 2017, including New York.

Report co-author Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown Center, says many uninsured children come from immigrant families. And national politics made parents afraid to seek services.

"A lot of uninsured kids are citizen kids, but they might have a parent who's an immigrant,” she points out. “And those families are increasingly worried about interacting with the government."

Alker adds that Congress repeatedly trying to cut Medicaid, and the Trump administration reducing support for the Affordable Care Act, led to fewer adults being insured – and when adults go without health coverage, their children often do, as well.

Kate Breslin, president and CEO of the Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy, says the report shows there was no improvement in the rate of uninsured children in New York in 2017.

"For many years, there was a trend, a beautiful trajectory, where we were seeing fewer and fewer uninsured kids,” she points out. “And, for the first time in several years, we see a flattening out."

In New York state, about 2.7 percent of children were uninsured in 2017, which means New York is doing better than many other states. The rate increased only slightly from 2016.

Breslin agrees with Alker that anti-immigrant sentiment probably has contributed to fewer families getting health insurance.

"In 2017, it's quite possible that some of the proposals coming out of the federal government had a chilling effect, especially immigrant families, with regard to obtaining benefits," she states.

Breslin hopes New York can continue to make progress to get more children insured.

The report recommends states do more outreach and make their enrollment and renewal processes easier.

Laura Rosbrow-Telem, Public News Service - NY