State-by-state analysis finds the rate of uninsured young children is higher and increasing more rapidly in states that have refused to expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act, including in Kansas.

“Kansas is one of 13 states where the rate of uninsured young children has increased pretty significantly in a two year period,” said Emily Fetsch with Kansas Action for Children. “In 2016, 3.9% of young children under six were uninsured. That has increased to 4.9% in 2018.”

That’s according to an analysis by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families. Children that meet income guidelines are already eligible for Medicaid or CHIP in Kansas, but Fetsch says expansion would still help them.

“We know that children are more likely to be insured when their parents are,” said Fetsch. “Expansion really would benefit both kids and families as a whole. It’s really important if we want healthy children that we have healthy parents, as well.”

There are a couple of policy moves that could be made even without expanding Medicaid in Kansas.

“One is to make sure that no newborn leaves the hospital without coverage,” said Fetsch. “That would look like allowing Medicaid and CHIP enrollment in hospitals across the state. Another possibility is to request five-year, continuous Medicaid eligibility for children under six. What this looks like is that even if a family’s income changes, the child would have Medicaid for kind of an extended period of
time.”

Well-child visits are also seen as opportunities to engage parents and other caregivers in their own health and successful parenting.