CARSON CITY – Almost a decade’s worth of progress on getting Nevada’s children insured has come to a halt – and has even begun to slip – largely due to changes in federal policy since President Donald Trump took office, according to a new report.
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Researchers at the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families found that in 2016, 50,000 Silver State kids didn’t have health insurance – a number that soared to 58,000 in 2017.
That amounts to 8 percent of the state’s children, a rate significantly worse than the national average of 5 percent.
Report co-author Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown Center, says many people may shy away from health care programs that are under attack by the administration.
“Congress was trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act and cut Medicaid. And then, Congress let funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program expire, and it took them many months to actually get the CHIP program extended,” Alker explains. “And it created what we would call an ‘unwelcome mat’ effect.”
Nevada had been making steady progress since it expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act for adults, who then enrolled their children.
In the meantime, the Trump administration has cut the enrollment period and slashed budgets for publicizing coverage, citing concerns about cost and effectiveness.
Emma Rodriguez, children’s health policy manager with the Children’s Advocacy Alliance in Nevada, thinks the numbers will get worse in 2018 because of the Trump administration’s “public charge” proposal, which would count use of certain public programs against legal immigrants when they are applying for citizenship.
“The public charge rule is likely deterring parents from enrolling their children in Medicaid or CHIP, despite the fact that most of these children are U.S. citizens,” Rodriguez notes. “In Nevada, there are over 140,000 citizen children with a non-citizen parent.”
The deadline for people to make a comment on the “public charge” proposal on the website regulations.gov is Dec. 10.
The 2018 open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act on Nevada Health Link ends Dec. 15.