Report: PA Children at Risk of Losing Medicaid Coverage
Friday, February 25, 2022
With the end of the public-health emergency looming, a new report reveals millions of children in Pennsylvania and elsewhere are at risk of losing insurance, some for administrative reasons.
More than half of Pennsylvania children are insured through Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). They've been able to maintain stability in their coverage thanks to the continuous-coverage requirement from the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
Laura Stephany, health policy manager for Allies for Children, said when the public health emergency ends, it will put many Pennsylvania kids at risk of losing insurance due to procedural policies such as the state not having an up-to-date address.
"If a family is low-income, and they don't really have the best housing security because of the economic crisis that's been going on for the past two years, they're more likely to move around a lot and to be missed," Stephany explained. "We really want to ensure that the most vulnerable families don't fall through the cracks."
The report was released by the Georgetown Center for Children and Families. The public health emergency is set to expire April 15 but could be extended past July. Since the start of the pandemic, 192,000 additional Pennsylvania children have enrolled in Medicaid coverage.
Tricia Brooks, research professor in the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University, said there are policies states can implement now to help minimize coverage disruption.
She urged states to slow down the process, to ensure efforts to prevent automatic disenrollment are thorough.
"States should start by maximizing the use of existing data sources to confirm ongoing eligibility for as many people as possible now to reduce the backlog of pending actions," Brooks suggested.
Pennsylvania advocates recommended Gov. Tom Wolf's administration utilize the 12-month period permitted by the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services for the eligibility and renewal process. Phone calls, emails and text messages could also help reach families at risk of losing coverage.
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