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As Congress and presidential candidates trade accusations over immigration reform, advocates and experts urge caution in spreading misinformation; Alabama takes new action IVF policy following controversial court decision; and central states urge caution with wildfires brewing.

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Congress reaches a deal to avoid a partial government shutdown again. Arizona Republicans want to ensure Trump remains on their state ballot and Senate Democrats reintroduce the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.

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Hard times could be ahead for rural school districts that spent federal pandemic money on teacher salaries, a former Oregon lumber community drafts a climate-action plan and West Virginians may soon buy raw milk from squeaky-clean cows.

Medicaid’s 'unwinding' takes heavy toll on Texas children

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Thursday, November 16, 2023   

More American children had health insurance during the pandemic than ever before. But now, as states are required to re-enroll those eligible for Medicaid, the number of uninsured is skyrocketing.

Nowhere is it more true than in Texas, where since what has called the "unwinding" started in April, already a half million children have lost coverage.

Stacey Pogue, senior policy analyst for the nonprofit policy institute Every Texan, said during COVID, federal government regulations prohibited states from removing individuals from Medicaid involuntarily, which benefited kids.

"Now that they've expired, we're back to business as usual in Texas, and Texas has become ground zero for children losing health coverage during unwinding," Pogue explained. "It's likely that most still qualify even though they've lost Medicaid."

A report from Georgetown University uses state-by-state data from the 2020 census. The number of uninsured American children dropped below 4 million in 2022, the first time it has happened in 15 years.

Overall, 21 states saw statistically significant declines in the rate or number of uninsured children, with Wyoming, North Dakota, Utah, New Mexico and Texas seeing the greatest improvements. Nonetheless, Pogue noted more than one in five uninsured children lives in Texas, more than any other state.

"It's just really clear from this report and these data that when federal law required Texas to remove barriers that parents face when they're trying to get their kids covered and keep their kids covered, that our child uninsured rate dropped notably," Pogue emphasized.

Valerie Borum Smith, a pediatrician in Tyler, said gaps in insurance coverage greatly affect whether parents seek help for their children, who she stressed have experienced crisis after crisis over the past several years.

"A yearslong pandemic, a national emergency on youth mental health, and last fall's 'triple-demic' of COVID-19, flu and RSV," Borum Smith outlined. "It's more important than ever that patients like mine have reliable access to care."

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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