Georgetown University Report Finds Progress Has Halted for Colorado Kids Health

Written by: Erin Miller
Date Posted: November 1, 2019

The number of uninsured children nationwide increased by about 400,000 in the past two years, reversing nearly a decade of gains, according to a new report released by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families. An estimated 4 million children were uninsured nationwide in 2018, the highest levels since the major provisions of the Affordable Care Act took effect in 2014.

In Colorado, the analysis shows that progress on children’s health coverage has halted and potentially reversed course. The number of uninsured kids increased by 5,000 children between 2016 and 2018, an increase that was not statistically significant but is concerning given the state’s progress in cutting the uninsured rate of children in half earlier in the decade.

In the same two years, Colorado witnessed a substantial decline in the number of children enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP, with 45,000 fewer children using public coverage. The number has fallen by another 16,200 in the period between December 2018 and June 2019, according to a separate analysis.

Colorado’s rates of uninsured children are particularly high among the Native American population, which has faced more barriers to quality health care services due to separate and unequal health care systems created through federal law. The rate is also high among Hispanic children, whose families may be afraid to seek public coverage because of the current hostile climate for Latino families with mixed immigration statuses.

“Colorado’s leaders need to recommit to making sure all children having the health coverage they need,” said Erin Miller, Vice President for Health Initiatives for the Colorado Children’s Campaign. “That means protecting the Medicaid expansion, because when parents gain coverage, so do kids. It also means that the Medicaid Department and our county administrators must figure out why kids are losing public coverage and make changes to get eligible kids enrolled and keep them covered. We also need to support immigrant families facing the hostile climate that the Trump Administration has created, which means that the state must ensure the privacy of the data that they use to enroll folks in coverage – both through Medicaid and CHIP and through the new public option the state is proposing.”

Nationwide, the rate of uninsured children increased from 4.7 percent to 5.2 percent between 2016 and 2018, a statistically significant increase.

“There are plenty of reasons why this is happening, but states can help turn the trends around by strengthening Medicaid expansion and making sure children and families have access to quality health care,” said Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families. “States also need to help counter the Trump Administration’s actions or inactions that have made health coverage harder to find and have deterred families from enrolling their eligible children in Medicaid and CHIP.”

The report analyzes data from the 2018 U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS). Along with the report, the Georgetown University research center launched a new interactive data hub that provides a more in depth look at child health care trends in Colorado and across the nation, and allows users to compare a variety of metrics across states.

This is the ninth annual report on uninsured children published by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, an independent, nonpartisan policy and research center founded in 2005 with a mission to expand and improve high-quality, affordable coverage for America’s children and families.

Erin Miller

About Erin Miller

Erin serves as the Vice President of Health Initiatives for the Colorado Children’s Campaign, leading efforts to improve health insurance coverage and quality for Colorado’s kids, improve access to health services, and ensure that every child has healthy places to live, learn, and play. Prior to joining the Children’s Campaign in September 2015, Erin worked on the Accountable Care Collaborative team at the Colorado Department of Health Policy and Financing. She has extensive experience evaluating federal, state, and local policies related to Medicaid, CHIP, the Affordable Care Act, and public health programs as well as working with legislators, policymakers, constituents, and other stakeholders to improve the health and well-being of vulnerable populations. Her professional experiences range from serving as a WIC Educator and Local Area Retail Coordinator for Denver Health to serving as a Special Assistant in the HHS Office of Planning and Evaluation in Washington DC and as a Health Policy Adviser and Budget Analyst for the U.S. House Budget Committee.