Medicaid

This Session, one of Voices for Utah Children’s top priority bills received very little public attention despite its behind-the-scenes activity. Below we will unpack what happened, lessons we learned, and what we believe the path forward should be so we can reach 100% Kids Coverage in Utah.

First a little background, during the 2021 Legislative Session, we were thrilled to see many statements in support of children’s health insurance coverage. Speaker Wilson highlighted children’s coverage and Utah’s high rate of uninsured kids during his opening Session remarks and supported funding for CHIP outreach. On the Senate side, Senator Escamilla championed a bill to Cover All Kids, which former House Leader, Representative Gibson, sponsored on the House side. While the bill did not make it through in the final days of the Session, it seemed well-positioned to pass in 2022.

Onto 2022…

This year Senator Luz Escamilla ran Senate Bill 185. Like her bill last year, SB 185 ensured all Utah children could get covered and stay covered by allowing income -eligible Utah children access to Medicaid and CHIP, regardless of immigration status. In addition, SB 185 restored funding for continuous eligibility for Medicaid children. Senator Escamilla skillfully navigated SB 185, with approval from the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee and broad support on the Senate floor. On the House side, Majority Leader, Representative Mike Schultz, stepped up as the House Sponsor to usher the bill across the finish line. But unfortunately, the bill was never brought to the full floor for a vote in the House.

So what happened this year?

Although SB 185 made it out of the Senate with little objections or pushback, it ran into obstacles in the House. The bill arrived in the House without enough time for a committee hearing. While it could have gone through without one, members of the House did not have the full time to discuss and familiarize themselves with the bill and work through question or concerns.  Although the bill never came to the floor for a full vote, it did have strong bipartisan support. Cover All Kids got even closer this year, but still fell short.

Going forward, we must discuss any questions or concerns directly. We invite lawmakers to join us in having honest conversations about the children we are leaving behind in our state, the children we are deciding not to cover. All children growing up in Utah need health insurance to thrive, regardless of their immigration status. To deny some children access to health care is unconscionable.

It is time we amplify the many voices, the stories, the statewide energy and support for Covering All Kids.  Lawmakers are ready; Utahns are ready. It’s time we act to Cover All Kids.

Learn more about the stories and join our campaign at https://www.100percentkids.health/take-action

Published in News & Blog

Utah has 82,000 uninsured children, according to the most recent Census data, which means an estimated 8.3% of children in Utah do not have health insurance. Utah currently ranks 46th in the nation for insured children.

When it comes to addressing this problem, too often public debate focuses on the cost to taxpayers of insuring Utah’s 82,000 uninsured children. But what about the cost of not insuring children?  Are there ways in which Utah taxpayers are already paying a price for allowing such a high number of uninsured children in our state?

In our new report, we address this question, building on findings from previous research. We explore two key ways in which Utah taxpayers are paying millions of dollars in costs annually for uninsured children:

1)  Uncompensated care for Utah’s 82,000 uninsured children may be costing state and local governments in Utah about $8.8 million annually.

2)  Covering all of Utah’s uninsured children would likely result in higher educational attainment levels, potentially adding nearly $10 million to Utah's personal income annually and generating over $800,000 in new tax revenue each year.

In sum, our report finds that Utah may be losing out on at least $9.6 million every year because of our high child uninsured rate.
 
We hope state leaders and policymakers will consider these findings as they review proposals to help improve Utah’s child uninsured rate. We can, as a state, remove barriers to Medicaid and CHIP.  We can adopt policies to help the thousands of Utah children unable to access health insurance.
 
These state proposals have costs, but the status quo is costing us even more. Our failure to act is undermining our state’s economy and holding back 82,000 children from achieving their full potential. As a state, we can no longer ignore the costs when thousands of children are uninsured and the profound savings when all children have coverage.
 

VIEW | DOWNLOAD Report

 

report graphic 1

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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

A Healthy Foundation for All Utah Kids to Thrive

Children and families need access to affordable, quality, health care. Health insurance provides a critical foundation for kids, so they can stay healthy, manage health conditions or problems, perform better in school, be active and thrive. ALL Utah kids should have access to health insurance. 

Unfortunately, too many Utah children do not have access to health coverage. Utah has:

  • One of the highest rates of uninsured children in the nation, 82,000 children (8%).
  • The highest rate of uninsured Hispanic/ Latinx children in the nation (19%).
  • The highest rate of children currently eligible for health insurance, but not enrolled. 

To address these problems, Voices for Utah Children works to strengthen health care access for families. Utah parents are working hard every day to make sure their kids are healthy, we need to make sure our healthcare policies are working for them.  

How do we do we reach 100% coverage and care for Utah kids?

  • Protect the foundational coverage that CHIP and Medicaid provides 
  • Connect Kids to Coverage! Improve children’s ability to access affordable, high-quality care 
  • Support Parent Coverage! It is critical for kids.
  • Cover All Kids! Remove all barriers to coverage.

Together we can help all kids be healthy and reach their full potential! Join our coalition of over 25 organizations who endorsed our 100% Kids Coverage Campaign to ensure all children in Utah have access to care! Click hear to sign on to our campaign today.

  • Alliance for a Better Utah
  • Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City
  • Centro de la Familia de Utah
  • Centro Cívico Mexicano
  • Coalition of Religious Communities
  • Community Health Connect
  • Community Health Workers Section -UPHA
  • Comunidades Unidas
  • Consulate of Mexico in Salt Lake City
  • Crossroads Urban Center
  • Family Healthcare in St. George
  • Friends of the Children - Utah
  • Granite Education Foundation
  • Holy Cross Ministries
  • International Rescue Committee
  • Kids Who Count
  • Neighborhood House
  • Neighborworks Salt Lake
  • NW Salt Lake Rotary Club
  • OCA Asian Pacific Islander American Advocates Utah (OCA UTAH)
  • People’s Health Clinic
  • Primary Children’s Hospital
  • Root for Kids
  • Salt Lake City Mayor's Office
  • Salt Lake County Mayor's Office for New Americans
  • Smart Smiles School-Based Oral Health Program (Denticare Management)
  • The University of Utah Health Plans
  • Utah Health Policy Project
  • Utah Dental Hygienists' Association
  • Utah Chapter American Academy of Pediatrics
  • University Health Communities Clinics
  • YWCA of Utah
Published in 2020 Issues
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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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