Millions of children at risk of losing health insurance as COVID-19 emergency coverage ends

Vidya Sethuraman
India Post News Service

With the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) set to expire this year ending the federal guarantee of continuous Medicaid coverage during the pandemic, states are once again required to check eligibility for everyone enrolled in Medicaid, including kids. Some 40-million children enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP nationwide are at risk of losing their health insurance during this transition back.

In California, 5.7-million children are covered by Medi-Cal (Medicaid/CHIP in the state), a major source of coverage for children of color. The State estimates 2-3 million Californians will lose their Medi-Cal coverage, including 800,000 to 1.2 million. Speakers at the EMS briefing on May 20 explained what the stakes are for children’s health, and what the state is doing and what the community can do to help children stay covered.

Joan Alker, Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, Executive Director said according to the Center for Children and Families at Georgetown University, 80-million people are currently insured through Medicaid or CHIP, about half of them children. The PHE is in place until July 15, 2022. It will likely be extended another 90-days until October 15. The data is clear, being uninsured is bad for children’s health,” said Alker. States will need to check eligibility for all 80-million people on Medicaid. They have 12 months to do so, but the extra funding will run out at the end of the quarter.

Mayra Alvarez, The Children’s Partnership said The Biden Administration is expected to extend the PHE again. 14-million people across the United States are estimated to lose Medicaid coverage within one year after PHE ends including 7 million children. Alvarez said that keeping kids covered is the right thing to do, so she and other health advocates are supporting AB2402, a bill that would “allow children enrolled in Medical to stay enrolled without making their families jump through administrative hurdles and keep them enrolled up to age 5. In case the bill doesn’t pass, Alvarez said advocates and the California Department of Health Care Services are informing parents that they may have to re-enroll in Medical when the public health emergency ends.