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Rate of Uninsured Children Worsens in Missouri, Nationwide

Enrollment data show that the number of uninsured children in Missouri will likely worsen in 2018. (Semevent/Pixabay)
Enrollment data show that the number of uninsured children in Missouri will likely worsen in 2018. (Semevent/Pixabay)
November 29, 2018

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – About 75,000 children in Missouri lacked health insurance in 2017, or about 5.1 percent, according to a new report from Georgetown University's Center for Children and Families.

That's a small increase over 2016 and is just above the national average, which increased from 4.7 to 5 percent.

Amanda Schneider, director of the Medical Legal Partnership at Legal Services of Eastern Missouri, says recently-released Medicaid enrollment data show an additional 28,000 children were dropped from enrollment statewide, so she predicts the 2018 numbers are going to be worse.

"There's not only a lack of progress in Missouri. We also know that there's been a significant drop recently," Schneider explains. "And we know that is likely due to some bureaucratic barriers which make it harder for eligible kids to remain on Medicaid and CHIP in Missouri."

Schneider says her clients who've lost coverage blame lengthy, hard-to-understand renewal forms that are only printed in English and have to be mailed back. They also complain that call centers put people on hold for long periods of time, or fail to connect them with anyone who can help.

The report showed that no state, aside from Washington, D.C., made gains in getting kids insured, despite a strong economy.

Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown Center, notes that Missouri is one of 14 states that chose not to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

"We found three-quarters of the children who lost coverage between 2016 and 2017 live in states that have not expanded Medicaid to their parents and other adults," Alker points out. "Really, the only thing I think at this point that a state could do to overcome these negative national currents would be to expand Medicaid."

The report finds that constant attacks on the ACA, the move to cap Medicaid and the delay in reauthorizing CHIP all contributed to public unease about signing up.

The administration also cut the ACA open enrollment period in half. It now ends Dec. 15.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - MO