Report: Ohio Reverses Course on Children's Health Coverage


  • Adobe Stock Photo
COLUMBUS, Ohio - A new report says Ohio is seeing a serious deterioration in children's health coverage.

According to the findings from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, the number of Ohio kids without health insurance rose nearly 28% between 2016 and 2018. In 2016, the same researchers reported the lowest number of uninsured children in a decade.

Tracy Najera, executive director of the Children's Defense Fund Ohio, says it's especially concerning to see the increase is happening during a period of economic growth.

"Making sure that all children are covered and getting the care they need is significant," says Najera, "and it's a part of the Ohio that we all want for our children. However, we've seen an erosion in the rates of insurance coverage."

Nationally, the number of uninsured kids increased by 11% between 2016 and 2018. The report found in Ohio, 29,000 more children are uninsured compared to two years ago, even though state leaders adopted Medicaid expansion in 2014.

Najera describes a combination of actions and inaction by the Trump administration as making health insurance harder to get and keeping some families from enrolling their children.

"Delays in funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program at the federal level and elimination of the individual mandate penalty," says Najera. "Cuts to enrollment outreach and advertising for enrollment is another issue that we think is contributing to this."

Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown Center, points out that across the nation, cycling in and out of health coverage is a problem at any time in a person's life, but it's especially harmful for children.

"Any short period of un-insurance exposes that parent to medical debt," says Alker. "If a kid falls down on the playground, breaks an arm - happens all the time. So, we really need these kids to have continuous health coverage."

Researchers found the loss of coverage was most pronounced for white and Latino children, and they suggest a climate of fear may discourage immigrant families from enrolling eligible children in Medicaid or CHIP.

Sign up for Scene's weekly newsletters to get the latest on Cleveland news, things to do and places to eat delivered right to your inbox.

We’re keeping you informed…
...and it’s what we love to do. From local politics and culture to national news that hits close to home, Scene Magazine has been keeping Cleveland informed for years.

It’s never been more important to support local news sources, especially as we all deal with the ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic. Almost everything Scene is about -- our stories, our events, our advertisers -- comes down to getting together. With events on hold, and no print distribution for the foreseeable future, every little bit helps.

A free press means accountability and a well-informed public, and we want to keep our unique and independent reporting available for many, many years to come.

If quality journalism is important to you, please consider a donation to Scene. Every reader contribution is valuable and so appreciated, and goes directly to support our coverage of critical issues and neighborhood culture. Thank you.

Add a comment