More Tenn. children uninsured, among biggest uptick in U.S.

Tennessee saw one of the nation’s greatest increases in the kids’ uninsured rate: 71,000 or 4.4 percent of children were uninsured in 2017, according to a new report released by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families. That’s 13,000 more children than in 2016.

The number of uninsured children nationwide increased by about 276,000 children last year, the first significant increase in a decade. An estimated 3.9 million children were uninsured nationwide in 2017.

Three-quarters of the children who lost coverage between 2016 and 2017 live in states that have not expanded Medicaid. Tennessee is among the states that has not expanded Medicaid.

“Tennessee’s choice not to expand Medicaid leaves our children and families behind,” said Kinika Young, Director of Children’s Health at the Tennessee Justice Center. “Medicaid expansion helps to get health insurance to more parents who had no coverage options before, and we know when parents have health coverage kids are more likely to as well. This helps kids get and stay healthy, so they can enter school ready to learn and succeed in life. Another choice leading to tens of thousands of children losing coverage just in the past year is Tennessee’s decision to forge ahead with redeterminations without a functioning computer system. The state has failed to take any steps to protect children from getting caught up in this red tape.”

Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown University research center and lead author of the report, said, “This increase in the child uninsured rate, particularly in states that did not expand Medicaid, is a warning sign to policymakers. Barring new and serious efforts to get back on track, there is every reason to believe the decline in children’s coverage is likely to continue and may get worse.”

This is the eighth annual report on uninsured children published by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, an independent, nonpartisan policy and research center founded in 2005 with a mission to expand and improve high-quality, affordable coverage for America’s children and families.