HealthChildren in Jeopardy of Becoming Uninsured

Children in Jeopardy of Becoming Uninsured

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A new report found Florida kids in the Children’s Health Insurance Program could be at most risk of losing health coverage when the official public-health emergency for COVID-19 expires.

Researchers at the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families warned millions of children could lose coverage as soon as April, when states will have to recheck eligibility for everyone enrolled in Medicaid, including kids.

Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families and Research Professor at the McCourt School of Public Policy, said the decisions to make CHIP a separate program from Medicaid, and to require families to contribute to the cost, increase the challenges to keeping kids enrolled.

“For all of these reasons, we estimate today that 6.7 million children are at extremely high risk of becoming uninsured during this process,” Alker reported. “As big as this number is, we actually believe this is a conservative estimate.”

The report said 2.9 million children could re-enroll in public health programs if they lose coverage, but about 3.8 million would have to find other insurance coverage or become uninsured. While kids in all states are at risk of losing coverage, the report lists Florida as one of the states at highest risk, along with Georgia and Texas.

Alison Yager, executive director of the Florida Health Justice Project, said she hopes Florida’s leaders will jump ahead of the looming problem to ease the transitions in Florida’s CHIP program, known as Florida KidCare.

“Even short gaps disrupt kids care,” Yager pointed out. “If kids have unmet health needs that’s going to impact their education, that’s going to impact their ability to go to work. It impacts kids and families in so many ways.”

While Medicaid beneficiaries age five and older are required to have their eligibility checked twice a year,
children enrolled in Florida KidCare are checked for eligibility only once a year. Yager is concerned that many families will be shocked when the relative stability that came with the public-health emergency ends.

Yager suggested the state should boost the call-center staff for the insurance programs to be more responsive.

Tricia Brooks, research professor at the McCourt School of Public Policy, said there are many things states can do to avoid coverage gaps, including moving kids into programs they are eligible for, rather than dropping them altogether.

“States should also enhance processes to follow up with enrollees via multiple communication modes, when action is required to avoid a loss of coverage,” Brooks urged.

About five million Floridians are enrolled in the state’s Medicaid program, most with managed-care plans.

Christmas

Un nuevo informe muestra que los ninos de Florida enrolados en el Programa de Seguro Medico para Ninos (CHIP por sus siglas en ingles) podrian correr mayor riesgo de perder la cobertura medica cuando expire la emergencia de salud publica oficial por COVID-19.

Investigadores del Centro para Ninos y Familias de la Universidad de Georgetown advierten que millones de ninos podrian perder la cobertura a partir de abril, cuando los estados tendran que volver a verificar la elegibilidad de todos los inscritos en Medicaid, incluidos los ninos. La directora ejecutiva del Centro, Joan Alker, dice que las decisiones de hacer que CHIP sea un programa separado de Medicaid y exigir que las familias contribuyan con el costo aumentan los desafios para mantener a los ninos inscritos.

“Por todas estas razones, estimamos hoy que 6.7 millones de ninos corren un riesgo extremadamente alto de quedarse sin seguro durante este proceso. A pesar de lo grande que es este numero, en realidad creemos que es una estimacion conservadora”, expreso Alker.

El informe dice que 2.9 millones de ninos podrian volver a inscribirse en los programas de salud publica si pierden la cobertura, pero alrededor de 3.8 millones tendrian que encontrar otra cobertura medica o quedar sin seguro. Si bien los ninos en todos los estados corren el riesgo de perder la cobertura, el informe enumera a Florida como uno de los estados con mayor riesgo, junto con Georgia y Texas.

Alison Yager del Florida Health Justice Project (Proyecto de Justicia de Salud de Florida) dice que espera que los lideres del estado se adelanten al problema que se avecina para facilitar las transiciones en el programa CHIP de Florida, conocido como Florida KidCare.

“Incluso las brechas cortas interrumpen el cuidado de los menores, por lo que si los ninos tienen necesidades de salud no satisfechas que afectaran su educacion, eso afectara su capacidad para trabajar. Esto afecta a los ninos y las familias de muchas maneras”, menciono Yager.

Si bien se requiere que los beneficiarios de Medicaid de cinco anos en adelante verifiquen su elegibilidad dos veces al ano, los ninos inscritos en Florida KidCare son verificados para determinar su elegibilidad solo una vez al ano. A Yager le preocupa que muchas familias se sorprendan cuando termine la relativa estabilidad que vino con la emergencia de salud publica.

Yager dice que el estado deberia aumentar el personal del centro de llamadas para que los programas de seguros sean mas receptivos. Y la investigadora de la Universidad de Georgetown, Tricia Brooks, dice que hay mas por hacer para evitar las brechas en la cobertura, incluido trasladar a los ninos a los programas para los que son elegibles, en lugar de desenrolarlos por completo.

“Los estados tambien deben mejorar los procesos para hacer un seguimiento de los afiliados a traves de multiples modos de comunicacion, cuando se requiere una accion para evitar una perdida de cobertura”, anadio Brooks.

Alrededor de cinco millones de floridanos estan inscritos en el programa Medicaid del estado, la mayoria con planes de atencion administrada.

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