ALABAMA - In previous years, Alabama has led the nation in providing health care for children but a recent Georgetown study shows that the number of uninsured Alabama children has increased over the last two years.
The state’s uninsured rate for children (3.5%) remained one of the best in the South and was far below the national average (5.2%) in 2018. But after years of improvement, Alabama’s number of uninsured children ticked up from 32,000 in 2016 to 41,000 in 2018.
Jim Carnes with Alabama Arise says the increase could be from several different things.
"Now that could be, could include children who lost coverage that they had or it could be children being born since that time who lack health coverage," said Jim Carnes.
Carnes says misunderstanding could have led to the decline.
"It could be rather than a decision on a parent's part not to enroll the kids it could be confusion about whether they were eligible or not, confusion about the renewal process because sometimes the paperwork," said Carnes.
And that confusion was fueled by the political and court battles over the Affordable Care Act.
"A lot of families were confused at that time about what coverage was still available to them and at the same time, Congress delayed re-authorization of the children's health insurance programs which is one of Alabama's flagship health coverage programs. Delayed the funding is very confusing for busy hard-working families who are just trying to go to work and keep food on the table," said Carnes.
Alabama Arise argues the expansion of Medicaid to young adults and parents would reduce the stigma of social medical programs.
"The states that have expanded Medicaid showed less of a decline in children's coverage. We think the connection there is that when parents have coverage in the family, the children are more likely to have coverage because health care is front and center in family life," said Carnes.
At this point, they haven't been able to identify what demographics the uninsured children are from. Alabama Arise tells WHNT News 19 they will be looking into that.