WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) again called on Republicans to stop playing political games with Ohioans’ healthcare as the Columbus Dispatch reported that in 2018, nearly 12,000 more Ohio children were without healthcare coverage when compared to 2016. Brown has also introduced legislation, the Stabilize Medicaid and CHIP Coverage Act, which would provide stability in coverage for all Medicaid and CHIP beneficiaries by protecting Ohio children and families from losing their coverage as a result of short-term changes to their incomes. The bill also provides incentives to states to help reduce turnover across Medicaid and CHIP programs.
“Children and families in Ohio shouldn’t have to suffer because GOP politicians in Columbus and Washington are prioritizing political interests over their constituents. Ohioans deserve better. It’s past time for Republicans to stop playing politics with Ohioans’ healthcare and work to improve healthcare in our country, rather than undermine it,” said Brown.
From the Dispatch:
“The report said the drop in coverage probably was caused by efforts by Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act and delays in extending funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, federal cuts in outreach and enrollment assistance, and less focus in many states on enrolling and retaining eligible children.”
The Trump Administration, GOP Attorneys General and Governors are leading a lawsuit that would overturn the Affordable Care Act in its entirety. A recent study shows that if the lawsuit is successful, 53.9 million Americans and just under 2 million Ohioans could lose their health insurance. According to another report by the Kiaser Family Foundation released in October 2019, twenty-nine percent of non-elderly adults in Ohio, or nearly 2 million Ohioans, are also at risk of losing their insurance due to preexisting conditions if a Trump administration lawsuit is successful. Among the many deniable pre-existing conditions are most forms of cancer, mental health disorders, pregnancy, sleep apnea and arthritis.
Brown also led efforts to demand a funding extension for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) after GOP lawmakers delayed action on funding for the program.
Republicans in Congress also tried – unsuccessfully – to repeal the Affordable Care Act in 2017.
More than 200,000 Ohioans were enrolled in ACA marketplace insurance in 2019. More than 600,000 Ohioans have healthcare coverage because of Medicaid expansion. If GOP Attorneys General and Governors are successful in overturning the ACA, the number of uninsured Americans would increase by 65 percent, 5.5 million young adults would lose the option to stay on their parents’ healthcare plans, and hospitals would risk closure.
In 2019, Brown joined Ohio patients and patient advocates in cities around Ohio to underscore the importance of the Affordable Care Act and recently introduced legislation to make improvements to the Affordable Care Act by adding a public option to the individual marketplaces.
Read the full story from the Dispatch HERE and below.
Cause for alarm: Thousands more Ohio children have lost health insurance
By Cathy Candisky
In the Buckeye State, nearly 12,000 more infants, toddlers and preschoolers were without coverage in 2018 than two years earlier. Advocates are urging Gov. Mike DeWine’s administration to improve and promote access to the tax-funded coverage.
Thousands more of Ohio’s youngest children had no health insurance coverage in 2018, reversing a multi-year decline in the rate of uninsured children younger than 6.
The Buckeye State’s uninsured rate for infants, toddlers and preschoolers climbed to 5% in 2018 from 3.6% in 2016, a 40% jump that ranked as third-highest in the nation.
Ohio had 41,642 children without health coverage, an increase of nearly 12,000 in two years, according to a recent study by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families.
“This trend is deeply disturbing because we know children experience rapid brain development during the earliest years of life, before they start kindergarten,” said Shannon Jones, executive director of Groundwork Ohio, a leading child advocacy group.
“We have a critical and narrow window of time to build a healthy foundation for development, intervene to address any delays and health conditions, and prevent greater challenges later in life.”
Uninsured children who are injured or ill can get care at hospitals, which are required by law to provide emergency treatment to anyone regardless of insurance coverage, but the children probably are missing out on regular visits to a pediatrician and dentist.
“These well-child visits and other preventive care are the first and best opportunity we have to engage parents and caregivers as partners in their child’s health and well-being before school begins,” said Melissa Wervey Arnold, chief executive officer of the Ohio chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The academy recommends 15 well-child visits before age 6, with most of those taking place in the child’s first two years.
With nearly half of Ohio children insured through the state’s Medicaid program and Children’s Health Insurance Program, advocates are urging Gov. Mike DeWine’s administration to improve and promote access to the tax-funded coverage.
“We have to hold all stakeholders, including health plans, accountable to our shared vision for young children in this state,” Groundwork Ohio’s Jones said.
DeWine said Friday that he had asked Medicaid Director Maureen Corcoran “to see what steps that we can take to deal with this.”
“I’ve asked her to see if there is some way to make re-enrollment easier and that it is not a hurdle … We should make it as easy as possible to keep a child in,” DeWine said.
“It’s very important,” the governor said. “Making sure every child in Ohio has good medical care is just absolutely essential.”
Medicaid officials, including Corcoran, were unavailable last week for comment.
In an interview in July, Corcoran said a decline in Medicaid enrollment was due to an improving economy and rising incomes causing many Ohioans to no longer qualify for coverage, and an annual renewal process that critics say is time-consuming and cumbersome and leads to many eligible beneficiaries being dropped from the rolls.
According to the Georgetown study, the number of children under age 6 in the country who lack health coverage surpassed 1 million in 2018, the first time that had happened since implementation of the Affordable Care Act several years ago. The uninsured rate rose to 4.3% from 3.8% in 2016.
The law, also known as Obamacare, is credited with producing a large decline in the uninsured rate for young children by encouraging states to expand Medicaid coverage to more families and providing government subsidies for low- and middle-income families to buy private insurance.
“Recent increases in uninsurance for the nation’s youngest children happened during a time of economic growth when more children should be gaining health care coverage,” the report found. “A number of factors may be contributing to this coverage reversal, likely driven by declines in Medicaid and CHIP among children —many of whom are likely eligible.”
The report said the drop in coverage probably was caused by efforts by Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act and delays in extending funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, federal cuts in outreach and enrollment assistance, and less focus in many states on enrolling and retaining eligible children.
More than half of the nation’s uninsured infants, toddlers and preschoolers live in seven states: Texas, with the highest share, followed by Florida, California, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Arizona.
Dispatch Reporter Randy Ludlow contributed to this story.
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