Alabama’s rate of uninsured children has moved in the wrong direction since 2016, according to a report released Wednesday by Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families.
The state’s uninsured rate for children (3.5%) remained one of the best in the South and was far below the national average (5.2%) in 2018. But after years of improvement, Alabama’s number of uninsured children ticked up from 32,000 in 2016 to 41,000 in 2018. (More Alabama-specific data is available at this link.)
The increase is a warning sign that Alabama could slip backward in children’s health care if policymakers do not protect and expand coverage, Alabama Arise policy director Jim Carnes said.
“Children’s health coverage has long been a point of pride for Alabama, and we can’t afford to backslide,” Carnes said. “ALL Kids and Medicaid have played huge roles in that success. And our state should build on those gains by expanding Medicaid to cover adults with low incomes as well. Medicaid expansion would boost financial security for struggling parents and increase the odds that their children get and stay insured. It would be good for children, good for families and good for Alabama.”
White House efforts to undermine the Affordable Care Act (ACA) also likely contributed to the coverage erosion, the report finds. Federal officials have shortened the open enrollment period for ACA Marketplace plans and have slashed outreach and advertising funding. Open enrollment for 2020 Marketplace coverage begins Nov. 1, 2019, and will continue until Dec. 15, 2019.