Medicaid

Salt Lake City - Voices for Utah Children released publicly today (January 6, 2021)  "#InvestInUtahKids: An Agenda for Utah's New Governor and Legislature," the first major publication of our new #InvestInUtahKids initiative. 

Utah begins a new era in this first week of January, with the swearing in of a new Governor and Lt. Governor and a new Legislature. The arrival of 2021 marks the first time in over a decade that the state has seen this kind of leadership transition. Last month Voices for Utah Children began sharing with the Governor-elect and his transition teams the new publication, and on Wednesday morning Voices will share it with the public as well.

The new publication raises concerns about the growing gaps among Utah's different racial, ethnic, and economic groups and lays out the most urgent and effective policies to close those gaps and help all Utah children achieve their full potential in the years to come in five policy areas: 

  • Early education 
  • K-12 education 
  • Healthcare
  • Juvenile justice
  • Immigrant family justice

The report, which was initially created in December and distributed to the incoming Governor and his transition teams, closes with a discussion of how to pay for the proposed #InvestInUtahKids policy agenda. The pdf of the report can be downloaded here

Published in News & Blog
July 30, 2020

Children’s Health

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Let’s Keep All Families Covered: New Report Finds Number of Uninsured Latino Children in Utah on the Rise

2020 Utah Legislature Made Strides to Help All Children Stay Covered

Decades of progress improving health coverage rates for Latino children has begun to erode nationwide, and Utah is seeing significant increases in both the number and rate of children going without insurance, according to a new report by UnidosUS and Georgetown University Center for Children and Families. These findings raise concerns that many children may not be able to access the health care they need during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Utah’s rate of uninsured Latino children rose faster than the national average, a statistically significant increase from 11.1 to 17.3 percent between 2016 and 2018. The number of children increased by about 60 percent, from about 18,900 to more than 30,200. What’s more, Latino children are almost 3½ times as likely to be uninsured as non-Latino children in Utah in 2018, a gap that is greater than the national average.

The report authors point to Trump Administration policies and rhetoric targeting immigrant families, as well as efforts to undermine health care programs, which have made it more difficult for families to sign their eligible children up for public health coverage. These national factors may influence children in Utah and the trend in the wrong direction.

During the 2020 Legislative Session, the Utah Legislature took a significant measure to reverse this trend and improve coverage for all Utah children by appropriating funding to keep children covered, a policy known as Medicaid 12-month continuous eligibility. Continuous eligibility ensures children can maintain stable, year-round health coverage, even if parents experience temporary changes in income or employment status, especially important given the abrupt changes many low-income families are experiencing now.

State Senator Luz Escamilla, champion for 12-month continuous coverage and children’s health care, said: “Health coverage is critical for all children because it improves their health and educational outcomes during childhood and sets them up for a healthier and more prosperous future with better opportunities to reach their full potential.” Said Senator Escamilla, “The actions this session show that working together we can make progress to help Utah kids.”

A policy of continuous coverage is a key priority of the 100% Kids Coverage Campaign, led by Voices for Utah Children, to ensure that all children in the state have health coverage. The campaign also calls for more Medicaid and CHIP outreach and coverage for children regardless of their family immigration status. Report lead author, Kelly Whitener notes, “The majority of uninsured children are eligible for affordable health coverage through Medicaid or CHIP but not enrolled.”

Voices for Utah Children policy analyst, Ciriac Alvarez Valle said, “Going forward, we will work to help more children and families get covered and overcome barriers to enrollment and care.” Alvarez Valle added, “No family should be afraid to get the care they need. We call on our state leaders to help Utah families feel safe getting health care now.”

For help enrolling in health insurance, visit: www.takecareutah.org  or call 2-1-1

For the full report: https://ccf.georgetown.edu/2020/03/10/decade-of-success-for-latino-childrens-health-now-in-jeopardy/

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Going Down a Scary Path: Utah kids are losing health insurance

Over the past two years, Utah has seen an alarming increase in our child uninsured rate. After years of steady progress, it is frightening to see kids lose health insurance. 7.4% or 72,000 Utah kids now lack health insurance, when only 6% or 59,000 kids were uninsured in 2016. We are seeing some of the most significant coverage decline among young children, age 0-5, an age when it is so critical for kids to have access to have screenings, check-ups and care. Why is this happening? Over the past two years Utah and our nation have experienced an unpredictable health care environment, affecting CHIP, Medicaid expansion and the ACA, leading to misinformation and confusion; administrative complexity and lack of continuous coverage leading to disruptions in kids coverage; anti-immigrant policies and rhetoric leading families to feel unwelcome and unsafe enrolling in programs. These are scary barriers keeping Utah kids from getting the care and coverage they need and Voices for Utah Children will be working hard to keep Utah from continuing down this path any further.

Tricks and Treats

After a roller coaster summer, the Utah Department of Health is submitting a waiver proposal to expand Medicaid, fully, up to 138% of the federal poverty level. Currently, Utah has only partially expanded Medicaid. Partial expansion has meant that more individuals are eliglble for Medicaid, but also that thousands of individuals and parents are still shut out of coverage, while Utah pays more money to cover fewer people. We are excited for Utah to take this step closer to full Medicaid expansion, as voters supported.

But unfortunately, this latest waiver proposal also includes harmful, additional barriers such as work reporting requirements and additional cost requirements for enrollees. These added requirements will make it harder for Utah parents and children to get coverage and care. Comments are needed to prevent these harmful requirements from moving forward.

We need your help to get Utah back on the right track to full expansion (the ‘treat’ without the tricks!). Submit your comments today to stand up for full Medicaid expansion, without additional barriers or restrictions.

Finally, the Public Charge rule was recently blocked in the courts. The Public Charge is postponed until further notice. But we still have work ahead of us and we must undo the damage already done as a result of anticipation of this harmful rule, and other anti-immigrant hostilities.

Learn more about the latest developments in the Public Charge rule here.

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New reports that the Trump Administration will not grant Utah waivers for a partial Medicaid expansion only underscore what we know: Utah must move forward with full Medicaid expansion, without delays or barriers.

Too many Utahns have been shut out, unable to access health care, because of partial expansion: Families making just above the poverty level; kids, whose coverage is affected by their parents’ coverage; new moms 60 days postpartum; individuals trying to improve their lives. Let's not gamble with Utahns' health care any more; too many Utahns have been kept in limbo and left out of coverage.

It’s time for Utah to stop paying more to cover fewer people and move forward with the full Medicaid expansion Utahns clearly support and need.

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Updates on kids coverage in Utah: Kids are losing Medicaid/CHIP coverage, meanwhile Utah is still paying more to cover fewer people…and more!

Why are Utahns paying more to cover fewer people?

Under Utah’s current partial expansion plan (aka the “bridge plan”), Utah is paying 30% more to cover thousands of fewer kids and families on Medicaid. To date, around 34,000 new individuals have enrolled in Medicaid coverage, although at least 50,000 still remain in the gap, unable to afford coverage on their own and not offered it through their job. Utah has left at least $7 million in federal funds on the table so far-- funds that could be used to help more families get coverage and care. (New update: latest reports state the Trump administration will reject Utah's partial expansion. It's time to stop paying more to cover fewer people.)

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Alarming Trend in Kids' Medicaid/CHIP Coverage

Utah kids are dis-enrolling from Medicaid/ CHIP at an alarming rate. At the July Utah Medicaid Advisory Committee meeting we learned that over 2,000 kids lost Medicaid/CHIP coverage last month. Such a steep drop cannot be explained by a strong economy alone. The number of Utah kids leaving CHIP/ Medicaid are among the highest in the nation. Both the Utah Department of Health and Department of Workforce Services have committed to doing additional investigation as to WHY kids are losing coverage. We greatly appreciate that they are taking this issue seriously and are working to find answers.

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Utah Medicaid Advisory Committee Once Again Prioritizes 12-Month Continuous Eligibility- Let's Keep Kids Covered!

For the third straight year, the Utah Medicaid Advisory Committee prioritized 12-month continuous eligibility for children on Medicaid as one of their top funding requests to the Governor. 12-month continuous eligibility would allow more kids to get covered- and stay covered. Current Medicaid reporting requirements mean many kids unnecessarily lose coverage, with cascading negative impacts. This policy would protect kids and families. The Utah Medicaid Advisory Committee has continually prioritized this as a cost-effective, best practice to keep kids healthy, consistently voting in favor of the Utah Department of Health adopting this policy.

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The Latest on Utah’s Medicaid Waiver

Utahns submitted a record 1,700 comments on Utah’s partial Medicaid expansion. Thanks to all who stood up for voter-approved full Medicaid expansion. Utahns voiced strong opposition to the proposed cuts, caps and barriers to Medicaid coverage which would leave many kids and parents without coverage or care. These comments send a message to state and federal officials and will provide the backbone for any future legal action.

Haven’t submitted a comment yet? There’s still time! Submit a comment here: www.utahchildren.org/comment

GMMB comment graphic

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Voices for Utah Children opposes the state of Utah’s proposal to make harmful changes to the Medicaid program. As part of Senate Bill 96, which rolled back Proposition 3 full Medicaid Expansion, the Utah Department of Health is required to seek a federal waiver to add restrictions and cuts to Medicaid. The  “Per Capita Cap” waiver is a dangerous proposal that puts the overall financial stability of the Medicaid program at risk by capping funding and creating new barriers for families seeking care.  

This waiver proposal undermines voter-approved full Medicaid expansion; it limits coverage options to a fraction of those who need it; and sets a dangerous precedent for other states looking to deny vulnerable residents affordable coverage options.

It is imperative that Utah instead realize full Medicaid expansion- without caps, cuts or barriers, so Utahns can get the affordable coverage they need to thrive.

The public now has an important opportunity to comment on the waiver proposal. Public comments play a critical role and can make a difference in defeating these proposed harmful changes. Learn more and submit your comments.

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Report: 2019 UTAH STATE OF CHILDREN’S COVERAGE REPORT 100% Kids: Giving All Kids the Opportunity to Thrive

Executive Summary

Health insurance coverage provides children with the foundation they need to be healthy and thrive. When children have health insurance, they have better health outcomes, greater academic success and more economic opportunities later in life.

Utah lags behind the rest of the nation when it comes to covering kids. In Utah, 7% of all children are uninsured, compared to 5% nationally. While Utah has made significant strides over the years connecting more children to coverage, in the last year, Utah’s child uninsured rate has increased. In 2017, Utah was one of only nine states to see its child uninsured rate trend in the wrong direction.

Who are the uninsured children of Utah? They are overwhelmingly low-income. Typically, their parents are uninsured too. The majority are eligible for CHIP or Medicaid insurance, but not enrolled. Some are not eligible for insurance at all because of their citizenship or immigration status. They live across Utah, with a higher percentage of uninsured children living in rural areas. Some children may have never been insured; some may have had insurance and then lost it or had a parent dis-enroll them due to stigma or fear of enrolling in public health insurance programs. They come from all racial and ethnic backgrounds however, a disproportionate percentage of uninsured children in Utah are Latino, the highest in the nation. Some come from families experiencing intergenerational poverty, some are immigrants, refugees or asylum seekers, facing steep obstacles to their health and well-being.

But no matter who they are, they are all Utahns. When 7% of our child population lacks health insurance, we put Utah’s future at risk. Utah is at a unique moment to challenge the negative trends and demand that all children, no matter their background, zip code, citizenship or immigration status, can access affordable health coverage.
The 100% Kids Coverage Campaign is led by a diverse coalition of stakeholders. This multi-year campaign has a goal of ensuring all Utah children will have coverage. Guided by four over-arching policy recommendations, the Campaign proposes to change Utah’s health coverage landscape:

  1. Strengthen and protect Medicaid coverage for parents
  2. Keep kids covered all year round
  3. Support consistent outreach and enrollment support
  4. Cover all kids, regardless of background or immigration status


Through targeted policies, political and community engagement, we can ensure that all Utah kids have the health coverage they need to grow, thrive and succeed in life. We believe that it is possible for 100% of Utah children to have access to affordable, consistent health coverage. We invite you to join us and help us reach 100% together.


The full report can be downloaded below. For a free print copy please call Voices at 801-364-1182

 

 

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100% Kids Coverage Campaign & Coalition Launch

Giving All Kids the Opportunity to Thrive

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

CONTACT:

Ciriac Alvarez Valle

801-364-1182

Salt Lake City —A coalition of over 20 diverse stakeholder organizations will announce a campaign aimed at ensuring that all Utah children have health care coverage, regardless of background, geography, immigration status, or income this Friday, May 24that 10 am at the Voices for Utah Children office (details below).

Utah has one of the highest uninsured rates for children in the country. In the last year, Utah was one of only 9 states to see an increase in its child uninsured rate, up from 6% to 7%. Children of color and immigrant children are disproportionately affected, of the 71,000 children without health insurance, almost 43% are Latino children. The Campaign aims to reduce the disparities in coverage and ensure that every child has the ability to access affordable health coverage.

During the launch, Voices for Utah Children will share its new State of Children’s Coverage Report with detailed information regarding Utah coverage, disparities to care and barriers faced by immigrant families. The 100% Kids Coverage Campaign focuses on four main policy priorities: Protecting and fully expanding affordable coverage for parents and pregnant women; keeping kids covered all year round; helping families connect and stay covered; and covering all kids regardless of immigration status. More detailed information about the campaign can be found here: https://utahchildren.org/issues/100-kids-covered.

The report includes several stories and testimonies from immigrant families on the importance of health insurance. “If [our family] had medical insurance, I’d be a calmer woman, with less stress, and more happiness because I’d have my son in his therapies that he really needs,” said one Utah mother in the report.  

 “Our campaign is committed to ensuring that Utah is a place for all children to grow up healthy, regardless of immigration status,” said Ciriac Alvarez Valle, Health Policy and Community Engagement Fellow for Voices for Utah Children. “We are encouraged to have so many groups come together in support of getting Utah to 100% Kids Coverage.

The Campaign & Coalition Launch will be held on Friday the 24th at 10:00 AM at the Voices for Utah Children Office (747 E South Temple #100).

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