AMCHP decries rise in uninsured children, says federal support is hampered by policies that block progress
The Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs (AMCHP) is alarmed by recently released data indicating that the number of uninsured children in the United States has risen for the first time in at least a decade. As noted in a new report by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, this is especially striking given that employer-sponsored insurance coverage for children increased from 2016 to 2017, while coverage from public programs such as Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program(CHIP) decreased.
The majority of AMCHP’s members administer the federally-funded Title V Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant, which is tasked with meeting national goals to improve the health and well-being of the nation’s women, infants, children, including those with special health care needs, and their families. These goals include increasing the percent of children with adequate health insurance, the percent of children receiving developmental screenings, and the percent of adolescents receiving annual well-visits. Making progress in any of these areas is difficult, if not impossible, without ensuring that children and their families have reliable access to affordable health insurance. That’s why Medicaid and CHIP are instrumental to the success of the Title V Block Grant and AMCHP’s members’ work to address the health needs of low-income and vulnerable families.
“While Congress and the federal government have wisely invested resources into meeting important maternal and child health goals through programs such as the Title V Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant,” said Jonathan Webb, CEO of AMCHP, “at the same time, Congress and the administration have sent discouraging messages about their support for those goals and created policy roadblocks to achieving them.
“These roadblocks, which have contributed to an increase in the number of children who are uninsured, include the delay in extending the CHIP program when it expired last year and decreased funding for health insurance outreach and enrollment efforts. Even the proposed ‘public charge’ rule related to immigration is having a chilling effect on families seeking services – including insurance coverage – for their children.
“We urge the administration and Congress to reverse course and align policies that will enable us collectively to meet established maternal and child health goals.”