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Report: Progress Covering Minn. Kids Stalled in 2017

The uninsured rate for Minnesota children is at an all-time low, but the trend toward more coverage stalled in 2017. (Fibonacci Blue/Flickr)
The uninsured rate for Minnesota children is at an all-time low, but the trend toward more coverage stalled in 2017. (Fibonacci Blue/Flickr)
November 29, 2018

ST. PAUL, Minn. – After a decade of progress, the number of uninsured children went up last year, nationwide.

In an annual report released today, the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families found more than 275,000 kids became uninsured in 2017, bringing the total number without coverage to 4 million.

In Minnesota, the number increased from about 46,000 to 47,000, although the overall uninsured rate remained stalled at 3.4 percent, said Stephanie Hogenson, outreach director with Children's Defense Fund-Minnesota.

"We are disheartened to see that there hasn't been additional progress as there has been in the past several years, though we know that uninsured rates are still at an all-time low," said Hogenson. "We'd like to see those continue to go down."

Hogenson said in particular, she wants to see uninsured rates for Latino and Native American children come down, because they lack coverage at higher rates than other children. She said outreach is key to getting people covered, and immigrant and mixed-citizenship families especially may not know they are eligible or how to enroll.

She added that when parents have coverage, children more likely to be covered.

Joan Alker, report co-author and executive director of the Georgetown Center, said this is the first time since the university started analyzing data eight years ago that no state made progress in covering kids.

She noted this backslide comes in a year when the Trump administration cut the budget for publicizing affordable health coverage, and said people also were watching a steady stream of congressional efforts to shrink programs designed to help working families, which she believes created an "unwelcome mat" effect.

"Congress was trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act for much of the year; Congress was trying to cut Medicaid," Alker explained. "And then, Congress let funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program expire Sept. 30th of that year, and it took them many months to actually get the CHIP program extended."

Alker believes it is in the nation's best interest to build upon years of bipartisan progress in reducing the number of uninsured children.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - MN