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Child uninsured rate declined during pandemic; coverage gains at risk

January 1, 2023

The number of uninsured children declined during the COVID-19 pandemic, largely due to protections put in place under the public health emergency, according to a new report (https://bit.ly/3F9YmWb).

The findings from the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute Center for Children and Families show a reversal in the trend from 2016-’19 when the number of children without health insurance was increasing and reached 5.7%. The child uninsured rate improved to 5.4% between 2019 and 2021, and the largest reductions were seen among low-wage working families.

Federal law provided states with additional funding to ensure children and families could stay enrolled in Medicaid during the public health emergency. Known as the continuous coverage protection, it prevented children from losing coverage if their families lost employer-sponsored health coverage or due to administrative barriers.

These coverage gains are at risk when the protections are lifted at the end of the public health emergency — referred to as the “unwinding” process. The Academy has undertaken extensive advocacy efforts to ensure eligible children and families can maintain their coverage.

Deborah M. Greenhouse, M.D., FAAP, a member of the AAP Committee on Federal Government Affairs, joined a media call upon the report’s release to acknowledge the coverage gains and call attention to the need to ensure children do not lose health care coverage.

“We cannot let children down right now. It is critical that children and families can continue to rely on the health care coverage that helps them get the care and services they need,” Dr. Greenhouse said. “Any disruptions in coverage would add another layer of crisis to an already dire situation.”

At press time, the public health emergency was expected to remain in place until at least April 11, 2023.

AAP recognizes lawmakers

AAP Past President Lee Savio Beers, M.D., FAAP, (right) traveled to Capitol Hill to present the Academy's Excellence in Public Service Award to Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo., left) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Reps. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.). The award acknowledges outstanding contributions to public policy for improving children’s quality of life. The lawmakers were recognized for their leadership in advancing the Global Child Thrive Act into law.

Advocacy Conference registration open

The 2023 AAP Advocacy Conference will take place from March 26-28 in Washington, D.C., the first time the conference will be held in person since 2019. Attendees will participate in advocacy skills-building workshops, hear from distinguished guest speakers and learn about policy priorities impacting children. On March 28, participants will visit their congressional offices to discuss a key child health issue.

To learn more and to register, visit https://aap.org/adcon.

New year, new congressional session

As the new congressional session starts, incumbent lawmakers and those newly elected to their positions are heading to Washington, D.C., with a full agenda. The Academy will continue its advocacy to urge legislators to advance policies that are most supportive of children, families and pediatricians.

AAP members can receive the latest advocacy updates and opportunities by emailing kids1st@aap.org. Provide your AAP ID and ask to be added to the advocacy email list.

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