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Report: More than 100,000 Virginia Children Don't Have Health Insurance

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Friday, November 1, 2019   

RICHMOND, Va. – More than 100,000 children in Virginia lack health insurance, according to a new report from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, and that number grew by about 3,000 between 2016 and 2018.

Emily Griffey, policy director for the group Voices for Virginia's Children, says President Donald Trump's hard line position on immigration has had a "chilling effect" on the number of families signing up for federally funded insurance programs, such as Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program, or CHIP.

"We've heard anecdotally that families, particularly in immigrant communities, are not as willing to enroll their children in health insurance during this time of confusing immigration information coming from the federal government," Griffey relates.

More than 11% of the thousands of uninsured children in Virginia are Latinx, the report finds, which is higher than the national average of 8% for that group.

The data for the report was compiled before Virginia's Medicaid expansion in 2018.

More than 400,000 Virginia families have signed up for Medicaid since the rolls opened early this year.

Griffey expects the number of insured children to grow, and points out that the expansion has already helped boost maternal and infant health.

"Prior to expansion in Virginia, women that qualified for Medicaid would lose their coverage 60 days postpartum,” she explains. “Now, the expansion population – so, up to 139% of [the federal] poverty [level] – can keep their coverage."

Griffey is referring to the income levels needed to qualify for Medicaid.

This is the ninth year the Georgetown Center has done the report. Its executive director, Joan Alker, says in 2016, the research showed the lowest number of uninsured children since the report began, but the trend has reversed since then.

"What's clear from this new data is that the country is going in the wrong direction,” Alker states. “And we see that it's very hard for any state to make progress with some of the negative national trends that are happening."

Alker predicts if the economy slows down, the trend of more uninsured children will continue across the nation.

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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