The AAP and other children’s health and medical groups joined together Tuesday calling
for lawmakers to take action.
“For these kids, no coverage often means no care,” the group said in a joint statement. “No care means fewer preventive screenings to catch conditions before they become
severe and costly. No care means more missed school and work days for parents. It
means no access to affordable dental coverage, or prenatal services for pregnant mothers.
We can do better, and we must.”
Last year, 5.5% of children were uninsured, up from 5% the previous year, according
to the Census Bureau. While private insurance coverage stayed flat, rates of children
enrolled in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) dropped from
36.5% to 35.3%.
“The Census Bureau data showing an increase in the proportion of uninsured children
is disturbing,” said AAP President Kyle E. Yasuda, M.D., FAAP. “This is a warning
signal that the AAP finds concerning, particularly with fewer children enrolled in
Medicaid and CHIP.”
The highest rates of uninsured children were in the South at 7.7%. Hispanic children
were the largest uninsured racial group at 8.7%, up from 7.7% the year before. Uninsured
rates for white, black and Asian children were between 4.1% and 4.6%.
“Make no mistake: the Administration’s actions — such as harmful policies that discourage
immigrant families from enrolling in Medicaid and CHIP and adding more red-tape to
Medicaid — have contributed to this erosion of children’s coverage,” the AAP and its
partners said. “There are signs that coverage losses for children will continue to
States that expanded Medicaid eligibility saw greater declines in coverage for children
than other states. Across all ages, 8.5% of people were uninsured, up from 7.9%, marking
the first increase since 2009.
“Using our principles as a guide, Congress and the Administration should take action to make it easier
and more affordable for children and families to enroll — and stay enrolled — in coverage
that meets their needs,” the joint statement said. “This is a problem we must solve
before it becomes a crisis.”
Census reports also looked at income and poverty rates. Following three consecutive
annual increases, the median household income stayed relatively steady at $63,179
About 11.9 million children lived in poverty in 2018, defined as a family with two
adults and two children with an annual income below $25,465. The rate dropped from
17.4% to 16.2% but remained higher than rates for adults.
About 11.8% of people across all ages lived below the poverty line, compared to 12.3%
in 2017. It is the fourth consecutive year the poverty rate improved.
Across all ages, poverty rates were highest for blacks (20.8%), followed by Hispanics
(17.6%), Asians (10.1%) and non-Hispanic whites (8.1%)
Addressing poverty is a top priority for the Academy. The AAP policy Poverty and Child Health in the United Statescalls for improving access to early childhood education and increasing parents’ income
by strengthening programs like the earned income tax credit, Supplemental Nutrition
Assistance Program, housing subsidies and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program
for Women, Infants, and Children.