ALBANY, N.Y. – The number of children without health insurance is on the rise nationally, according to a new report, but New York is holding the line.
The report, from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, found that between 2016 and 2018, the number of uninsured children nationwide increased by more than 400,000 while New York continued to reduce those numbers.
Kate Breslin, president and chief executive of the Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy, said that with only 2.5% uninsured, the state ranks fifth in the nation overall for the percentage who have coverage.
“I think one of the things that we’re doing right is continue to make sure that all kids are covered, whether they’re in urban areas or rural areas,” she said. “New York has been a beacon for that.”
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However, she cautioned that the Trump administration’s proposed “public charge” rule has raised fears among immigrant families, causing many to pull out of important health programs.
Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown Center, noted that other states have made it harder to enroll in or stay enrolled in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
“We’re hearing a lot around the country about parents having to produce a lot more paperwork than they used to,” she said, “and also being cut off – many times without even realizing their child has been cut off until they show up in the doctor’s office.”
She said federal attacks on the Affordable Care Act, cutting funds for outreach and eliminating the individual coverage mandate also have reduced the number of children with insurance.
Breslin said making it harder for adults to get health insurance not only threatens their own ability to stay healthy but also threatens their children’s access to health care.
“It’s important that we remember how important it is that parents have coverage,” she said, “because kids are more likely to get the care that they need when parents have coverage.”
The report said even a short-term loss of health insurance exposes a family to the risk of poverty from medical debt.