Sharp Decline in Medicaid and CHIP Enrollment Could Mean More Uninsured Children

Georgetown University Health Policy Institute Center for Children and Families reported an 800,000 decline in enrollment in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) between 2017 and 2018.  That’s a 2.2% decrease in overall child enrollment in just one year.

According to Georgetown’s report, 38 states saw declines in child enrollment, while only 12 states and Washington, D.C. saw enrollment gains. The report suggests that this could be the result of a strong economy, but also suggests that those children not currently enrolled in CHIP are left uninsured. This puts our kids at risk of major health challenges without a safety net to meet their needs.

More than 45 million children currently receive reliable coverage through Medicaid and CHIP, including 45% of children under the age of 6 and 36% of children between the ages of 6 and 18. The program provides comprehensive care — like school-based services like speech and physical therapy, counseling, and transportation — to ensure these young Americans have healthier futures.

There are a number of best practices that could further strengthen the Medicaid and CHIP programs and improve child enrollment. Some of those include:

  • Increasing Consumer Outreach. Marketing and outreach are critical to raising awareness about potential coverage options that are available. A recent report from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that one of the most effective ways to reach potential enrollees is to combine mass marketing with targeted grassroots outreach.
  • Leveraging Schools as Education Centers. Schools play a vital role in educating families about potential coverage options for children through Medicaid and CHIP. Another Georgetown report surveyed recent research around children’s health coverage and found that schools are among the best places to enroll children.
  • Stop Funding Cuts. Preventing funding cuts to Medicaid and CHIP is critical to maintaining quality health coverage options for children. In a recent interview with the Modern Medicaid Alliance, Jim Kaufman, Vice President of Public Policy for the Children’s Hospital Association, noted that program funding cuts have an acute impact on children’s access to coverage and health benefits.

These and other innovative Medicaid best practices can help reinforce the program’s crucial role. Each year Medicaid ensures millions of children, providing them with a safety net they can count on as they continue to grow – and that means a healthy future for America’s kids.