Between April 2023 and August 2023, 61,000 Ohio children have lost Medicare coverage and advocates want to know why. Experts believe that this drop in coverage could be caused by a number of factors, and they all agree that this is a troubling trend that could affect the livelihood of Ohio’s most vulnerable population.
Understanding the Data
Nadia Ramlagan of Public News Service reports that Kelly Vyzral, senior health policy associate, Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio, said because Ohio does not disaggregate information by adult or child, there is little data available on why kids are dropping off. She added whether their parents obtained employer-sponsored coverage or they lost coverage for procedural reasons like a change of address, the trend is troubling.
Georgetown University Center for Children and families notes that the drop in coverage across the country coincides with the lifting of the pandemic-related Medicaid continuous enrollment protection this past spring.
They write, “Based on early data and other facts emerging as states review eligibility for all enrollees, it seems that our worst fears about eligible children losing health coverage may very well be coming true. Already, we know over a half million children have been disenrolled in just 21 states that post child enrollment data on a more-timely basis. National data on Medicaid enrollment posted by CMS has a three to four-month lag. Keep in mind that by the end of 2018, about 828,000 fewer children were enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP compared to the previous year which resulted in an increase in the child uninsured rate of half a percentage point.”
Ripple Effects From Loss of Coverage
More than 38% of Ohio children rely on Medicaid or K-CHIP coverage and many families won’t know their children have been disenrolled until they visit the doctor. Some of these disenrollments could be erroneous, such as in Texas, a state that disenrolled more than 500,000 people on June 1st, and where state agency employees recently blew the whistle on systems errors that caused inappropriate terminations.
Whatever the reason, advocates warn that this loss in essential medical coverage will have far-reaching ripple effects. “Children are not expensive to cover, but they’re regular utilizers of care. We don’t want families showing up at the pharmacy and being told, no, you can’t get your child’s medication,” Joan Alker, research professor, McCourt School of Public Policy and executive director, Center for Children and Families at Georgetown University explained.