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Why 1 million children were kicked off Medicaid

Business Insider logo Business Insider 10/22/2019 Joseph Zeballos-Roig

More than a million children were thrown off Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program coverage between December 2017 and June 2019, according to an analysis from The New York Times.

The 3% drop has been driven by several states adding cumbersome paperwork requirements and increasing fear among immigrants that enrolling their kids could lead to deportation.

A handful of states in particular experienced a spike in the rate of uninsured children: Tennessee, Georgia, Texas, Idaho and Utah. The rise in the number of uninsured children was concentrated in a handful of states.

Government officials in states like Tennessee pointed to a robust economy where more people have been able to gain jobs with private health insurance as the reason for decreased Medicaid enrollment.

Read more: A study showed one of the Trump administration's biggest healthcare changes failed at its main goal

However, Tennessee and Texas have also imposed stricter administrative regulations and added paperwork for beneficiaries, which critics say only serves to boot eligible people from accessing public health coverage.

In other states with larger immigrant communities, like Florida, patient advocates report that immigrant parents signing up their native-born children are fearful that their chances of citizenship will be dented - or that they'll be deported altogether.

Earlier this year, the Trump administration tried rolling out a public charge rule that would bar immigrants from obtaining citizenship if they used public aid programs. A recent survey of community health centers from the Kaiser Family Foundation that the specter of its implementation led many immigrant parents to avoid enrolling their children for public health coverage. The rule has been temporarily blocked in federal court. 

The Times also reported the number of children in the United States without any health coverage rose by 400,000 between 2016 and 2018. 120,000 of them lived in Texas alone.

There is substantial research that shows Medicaid coverage for children has a long-lasting impact on their lives, with effects ranging from better health, higher educational attainment and stronger earnings as an adult.

Related video: Health care for undocumented immigrants (provided by KOAT Albuquerque)

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