TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – The percentages of children lacking health insurance in Florida and nationwide are on the rise, reversing recent trends.
In 2018, 7.6 percent of Florida children were without insurance, up 1 percentage point from 2016. Nationally, the uninsured rate in 2018 was 5.2 percent.
Florida’s largest county, Miami-Dade, had the ninth-highest number of uninsured children in the country, with 41,534 in 2018.
The analysis, conducted by the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute, showed that the number of uninsured children nationally grew by more than 400,000 between 2016 and 2018, with 51,000 of the children in Florida.
Only one state made progress, according to the report: North Dakota. The increases reversed years of decreases in the percentages of uninsured children.
The rates of uninsured children started to decrease with the passage of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which provides subsidized insurance to children who live in families whose income exceeds what’s allowable under traditional Medicaid.
In Florida the program is known as Florida KidCare. To be eligible for the subsidized coverage, children must live in families whose incomes are at or below 215 percent of the federal poverty level.
The median income for eligibility nationally is 255 percent of the federal poverty level, making enrollment in Florida’s program more stringent.
Joan Alker, executive director of the Center for Children and Families and a research professor at the Georgetown McCourt School of Public Policy, said the losses of coverage comes during good economic times, and she put the blame on the White House.
“The serious erosion of child health coverage that we are discussing today is due in large part to the Trump Administration’s actions or inactions that have made health coverage harder to access and/or have deterred families from enrolling their eligible children in Medicaid/CHIP,” Alker wrote in a blog post.
She pointed to issues such as President Donald Trump’s immigration policies. Also, she said in the blog post that insuring children has lost its bipartisan support.
“After many years of clear bipartisan leadership to get kids covered and national attention on the value of coverage, the discussion in 2017 about repealing the Affordable Care Act, cutting Medicaid and delaying funding for CHIP has had repercussions as it caused a lot of confusion about whether or not families could get coverage for their kids or not,” Alker wrote.
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