Federal Law Causes the Rate of Uninsured Children in Georgia to Drop to Historic Low

Federal Law Causes the Rate of Uninsured Children in Georgia to Drop to Historic Low

Federal Law Causes the Rate of Uninsured Children in Georgia to Drop to Historic Low

New report reveals pandemic-era protections led to a 19% drop in the rate of uninsured children including huge gains for Latino children

WASHINGTON, Oct. 26, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The rate of uninsured children in Georgia reached its lowest level in history thanks to pandemic-era protections designed to prevent health coverage loss according to a new report released today from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families (CCF). The report examined 2021 U.S. Census Bureau data and found that a continuous coverage mandate in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act passed by Congress led to more children staying enrolled in the state’s Medicaid program. Georgia’s state policies have led to one of the highest uninsurance rates in the South, and federal protections have been critical to keeping Georgia children and families enrolled during the pandemic.

Since January 31, 2020, the federally declared COVID-19 public health emergency and related laws have prohibited states from disenrolling individuals from Medicaid in exchange for increased federal funding. These protections have gone a long way in narrowing children’s health coverage gaps in Georgia where an estimated 176,000 children still lack health insurance. However, Georgia is one of six states identified as having the greatest number of risk factors for children losing coverage when the federal protections are lifted – which may happen as soon as January of 2023.

Key findings from the report include:

  • The largest drop observed for any group of children in Georgia was among Hispanic/Latino children, who saw the uninsured rate decline by 20 percent.
  • The uninsured rate dropped 19 percent among children in families with the lowest incomes (below $31,781 per month for a family of 3)
  • The uninsured rate also dropped among school-aged children who tend to have higher uninsured rates as compared to younger children.

“Prior to the onset of COVID-19, the rate of uninsured children in Georgia had been climbing,” said Joan Alker, Executive Director, CCF. “It should not take a global pandemic for families to have an opportunity to access uninterrupted, reliable health care. Georgia must step up efforts to protect children’s coverage when the public health emergency protections lift. The buck will stop with the Governor on this one.”

With the federal continuous coverage protection set to lift as soon as January 2023, the report calls for immediate action from leaders in Georgia to safeguard health coverage gains including eliminating premiums, implementing 12-month continuous eligibility for children enrolled in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and expanding Medicaid.

“The continuous coverage requirement has been an important support for Georgia households, especially low-income and Latino families, to accessing health coverage,” said Leo Cuello, co-author of the report and a research professor at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy. “There is overwhelming evidence to show that reliable access to health coverage makes a difference in a child’s life and leads to positive life-long educational and health outcomes. Now is the time for Georgia to strengthen access to insurance coverage and prevent an increase in uninsured children.”

For more information about the report, visit: https://bit.ly/3zaNhSD

CONTACT: Gabriela Gomez