Staggering Number of Ohio Kids Have Lost Medicaid Coverage

 As kids' Medicaid eligibility review gets underway, experts are concerned about the number of Ohio children losing federal health insurance.

Kelly Vyzral, senior health policy associate, Children's Defense Fund-Ohio, said because Ohio does not disaggregate information by adult or child, there is little data available on why kids are dropping off. She added whether their parents obtained employer-sponsored coverage or they lost coverage for procedural reasons like a change of address, the tend is troubling.

"So we don't know why the 61,000 kids have lost their Medicaid coverage," she explained. "But there's a difference in the total number of children covered in April, versus the number covered in July. That's 61,000."

According to the Georgetown Center for Children and Families, more than 38% of Ohio children rely on Medicaid or K-CHIP coverage.

At the start of the school year, kids often need routine immunizations and physical exams for sports. Vyzral pointed out many families won't know their children have been disenrolled until they visit the doctor.

"It's not too late, they can reapply," she said. "They should definitely avail themselves of all of those roads, to maintain their children's coverage."

Joan Alker, research professor, McCourt School of Public Policy and executive director, Center for Children and Families at Georgetown University, said the ripple effects of increasing numbers of kids without coverage could be far-reaching.

"Children are not expensive to cover, but they're regular utilizers of care. We don't want families showing up at the pharmacy and being told, no, you can't get your child's medication," she explained.

According to data from KFF, kids are being kicked off of Medicaid rolls largely due to simple errors. Nationwide, nearly 700,000 children have lost coverage during the unwinding, though experts have said that number is likely much higher.

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