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After Years of Improvement, Uninsured Rate for NV Kids Gets Worse

At 8%, Nevada's percentage of uninsured children is among the highest in the nation. (DMarshall/iStockphoto)
At 8%, Nevada's percentage of uninsured children is among the highest in the nation. (DMarshall/iStockphoto)
October 30, 2019

CARSON CITY, Nev. - Nevada is moving in the wrong direction when it comes to getting health insurance for children, according to a report released today, with the number of uninsured kids going up for the first time in years.

The ninth annual report from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families found the Nevada uninsured rate went up one percentage point, to 8%, from 2016 to 2018. That's the sixth-worst rate in the country.

Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown Center, said Nevada is losing some of the large gains made when the state expanded Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act.

"That has turned around now, and what's clear from this new data is that the country is going in the wrong direction," she said, "and we see that it's very hard for any state to make progress with some of the negative national trends that are happening."

The report blamed the poor showing on the administration's attacks on the ACA and Medicaid, including eliminating the individual mandate to buy insurance and cutting funds for enrollment outreach and advertising.

Denise Tanata, executive director of the Children's Advocacy Alliance in Nevada, said anecdotal evidence suggests many immigrant families are taking their kids off Medicaid, in case the administration is successful in its attempt to change public-charge rules, which would make it more difficult for immigrants to get visas or green cards.

"We've got some individuals that are eligible that are actually calling and asking to be removed," she said. "While we don't have a lot of data on that, we know that there's a lot of fear, particularly in the immigrant population, of being on any type of public program right now."

Tanata said advocates are working with state agencies to remove some of the administrative barriers and red tape around enrollment and re-enrollment in Medicaid. According to the report, the number of uninsured children nationwide rose by 400,000 from 2016 to 2018, and last year reached a total of 4 million children uninsured.

The Georgetown report is online at ccf.georgetown.edu, and a state-specific data hub is at kidshealthcarereport.ccf.georgetown.edu.

Disclosure: Georgetown University Center for Children & Families contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Health Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - NV