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Maine Increases Rates of Children with Health Insurance

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Monday, December 19, 2022   

Federal funding during the COVID-19 public emergency helped to further reduce the number of uninsured children in Maine, but as pandemic-era dollars dry up, health advocates say children are at risk of losing critical care.

More than 4% of children still lack health insurance in Maine, putting them at greater risk for missing important health screenings which can prevent problems down the road.

Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, said any gap in health coverage can also lead families into medical debt.

"We know that children fall on the playground, they need stitches, they break their wrist, and one trip to the ER can really set a family back," Alker observed.

Alker stressed it is important for families to update their contact information with their health insurer to prevent any loss of coverage. She pointed out Congress can also help prevent kids from falling through the cracks by establishing a minimum of twelve months of continuous Medicaid eligibility for children in Maine and beyond.

Eligibility for state-funded MaineCare is set to expand sometime in 2023, allowing a family of three to earn up to $69,000 dollars and have their children covered. Gov. Janet Mills' administration is also working to ensure children and pregnant people can get coverage regardless of their immigration status.

Ann Woloson, executive director of Maine Consumers for Affordable Healthcare, said when more parents have health insurance, it is more likely their children will, too.

"Policymakers [and] the administration have taken concrete steps to expand coverage in Maine and to make it easier for people to apply," Woloson explained.

Woloson noted the state recently updated the electronic application for all public health and nutrition programs at MyMaineConnection.gov to be more user-friendly. Open enrollment for insurance through the federal marketplace ends Jan. 15, but Woloson emphasized if families enroll before that date, their coverage can begin Feb. 1, while others may be eligible for special enrollment periods the state has expanded to ensure more Mainers get the health care they need.

Disclosure: The Georgetown University Center for Children and Families contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, and Health Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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