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Ohio's Rate Of Uninsured Children Jumped By 20 Percent

Cade Martin, Dawn Arlotta
Public Domain Pictures

A report from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families released Thursday shows that the number of children in the U.S. without health insurance rose by almost 300,000 last year. Ohio was one of nine states that saw a significant increase, at 20 percent.

“Ohio did have one of the worst increases that we saw,” says Joan Alker, executive director of the Center. “There were an additional 21,000 children that became uninsured in 2017.”

Alker says that brings the total number of uninsured children in the state to 125,000. She says the increase is due to a decline in public coverage for kids.

“While kids were getting more coverage through their parents jobs, for a lot of those low-wage working families that cannot get coverage through their jobs, Medicaid, CHIP, or Affordable Care Act marketplaces are really the way to go,” she says

Her team believes that the Trump administration’s funding cut for advertising and outreach led to a decline of those areas.

Alker says this is the first year they’ve seen the number of uninsured kids go up since they began collecting data in 2008.

“We’ve made a lot of bipartisan progress on this issue for many years now, and I hope that, despite the divisions in our country, this is an issue we can all get around and try to start moving this number back in the right direction,” she says.

And she commends Ohio for some previous choices.

“The good news in Ohio is that you have expanded Medicaid for parents and other adults under the ACA (Affordable Care Act). It’s going to be important to keep that expansion very strong," Alker says. "We see states that haven’t done that starting to have more and more uninsured kids,” she says.  

Clare Roth was former All Things Considered Host for 89.7 NPR News. She joined WOSU in February of 2017. After attending the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, she returned to her native Iowa as a producer for Iowa Public Radio.