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Most MN Kids Insured, But National Trend Raises Concerns

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Minnesota fares better than most states in a new report about children without health insurance. But it says about 1,000 fewer Minnesota kids were covered in 2018 than in 2016. (Adobe Stock)
Minnesota fares better than most states in a new report about children without health insurance. But it says about 1,000 fewer Minnesota kids were covered in 2018 than in 2016. (Adobe Stock)
 By Mike Moen, Public News Service - MN - Producer, Contact
November 1, 2019

ST. PAUL, Minn. – A new report says the U.S. has seen an increase of 400,000 children going without health-care coverage in the last few years. The findings from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families blame federal efforts to scale back the Affordable Care Act.

Minnesota saw a slight decrease in its number of uninsured kids between 2016 and 2018, but children's advocates worry about how long the state can hold the line.

Elizabeth Lukanen, deputy director at the State Health Access Data Assistance Center at the University of Minnesota, says the national conversation creates concern.

"The concern is that if parents aren't going to sign up for coverage because the mandate isn't in effect, if there's less outreach dollars, you know, and less enrollment assistance for parents, that they're not going to sign up,” says Lukanen. “And potentially, they're not getting their kids signed up."

She that's why Minnesota needs to build on its reputation for having strong outreach efforts to enroll families in public insurance programs, which could prevent the state from falling behind like other states.

Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown Center, says even states like Minnesota, that are trying on their own to get more kids covered, are treading water because of lack of federal support. Alker says between funding cuts, more red tape and anti-immigrant policies, the last few years have reversed almost a decade of headway in getting kids insured.

"That has turned around now, and what's clear from this new data is that the country is going in the wrong direction,” says Alker. “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 says Minnesota's number of uninsured children was down, but only by 1,000 – with the state's rate sitting at 3.3%. The national rate is 5.2%.

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.
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