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Number Of Uninsured Children In The U.S. Rises to 3.9 Mn: Report

The report also expressed concern that strict immigration policies and enforcement were making many immigrant families leery of enrolling.

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The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is doing a research on the medicinal use of cannabis for treating diseases like cancer, epilepsy and sickle cell anaemia. VOA

The number of uninsured children in the United States has increased for the first time in nearly a decade, placing it at 3.9 million in 2017, according to a report Thursday from Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families.

Nationally, the number of uninsured children increased by an estimated 276,000 in 2017, from a historic low of 4.7 percent in 2016 to 5 percent last year. Experts say about 75 percent of the newly uninsured children are clustered in states that did not expand Medicaid such as Florida, Texas and Georgia.

Under President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, Florida and other states could take federal funding to help pay for health coverage for nearly 900,000 people, but the Republican-led Legislature in Florida voted against it. The vast majority of states have already expanded Medicaid and increased the number of residents eligible for its coverage.

Joan Alker, executive director for Georgetown’s Center for Children and Families, has written the report for the last eight years and said she’s never seen the rates of uninsured children go up in all 50 states, which happened last year.

Probiotics, Uninsured
Florida has one of the highest rates of uninsured residents in the country.

Better economy, low unemployment

She said that what is perhaps most concerning is that the uninsured rate among children increased despite an improving economy and low unemployment rate that allowed more children to get private coverage through their parents.

The study blamed the increases on the Trump administration’s repeated attempts to prompt an overhaul of publicly funded health care. There were major efforts to repeal Obama’s Affordable Care Act and cut Medicaid, and the children’s CHIP insurance funding also ran out and hung in the balance for months before Congress extended it.

“There was a lot of confusion among families as to whether these public coverage sources were available,” Alker said.

At the same time, the Trump administration slashed funding for advertising and enrollment counselors to help sign people up for these health insurance programs. The country’s enrollment decline was not just in Medicaid and CHIP, but also in Obamacare, or the federal marketplace where parents can purchase private health insurance and often receive a subsidy to help pay for it.

The report noted that many of the children who do not have health insurance are eligible for coverage but just aren’t enrolled.

Central American Migrants, democratic party,Uninsured
Central American migrants begin their morning trek as part of a thousands-strong caravan hoping to reach the U.S. border, as they face the Pico de Orizaba volcano upon departure from Cordoba, Mexico, Monday. VOA

‘More of a fluctuation’

Ed Haislmaier, a senior research fellow with the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, said the figures were statistically insignificant.

He did agree that there were dips in Medicaid enrollment and through the Obamacare marketplace, but noted there’s no enrollment cutoff for Medicaid, meaning families can sign up their children year-round.

“It’s really more of a fluctuation. There’s no policy driver there,” he said, saying he didn’t think marketing cuts had any impact.

In Florida, the uninsured rate went from 288,000 in 2016 to 325,000 in 2017.

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Honduran migrant Genesis Belen Mejia Flores, 7, waves an American flag at U.S. border control helicopters flying overhead near the Benito Juarez Sports Center serving as a temporary shelter for Central American migrants, in Tijuana, Mexico. VOA

Florida has one of the highest rates of uninsured residents in the country, and also has had the highest number of enrollees purchasing insurance through the Obamacare federal marketplace. However, Medicaid expansion in Florida is likely off the table for this upcoming legislative session. Incoming Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis, a Republican, is against it. His opponent, Democrat Andrew Gillum, campaigned heavily on his support to expand Medicaid coverage for more residents.

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The report also expressed concern that strict immigration policies and enforcement were making many immigrant families leery of enrolling, even if their children were eligible for health coverage. “We think it’s really this national unwelcome mat regarding public coverage,” Alker said. (VOA)

Next Story

China Opposes Washington’s Decision On Iran Oil Sanctions

The United States quit the deal in May 2018, and renewed U.S. sanctions have hit Iran's economy and contributed to the fall of the national currency, the rial.

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Iranian oil worker
An Iranian oil worker rides his bicycle at a Tehran oil refinery. RFERL

Beijing has lashed out at a U.S. decision to impose sanctions on countries that buy Iranian oil, warning that it will intensify turmoil in the Middle East and in the international energy market.

“China firmly opposes the U.S. implementation of unilateral sanctions and its so-called long-armed jurisdiction,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at an April 23 press briefing.

The White House announced on April 22 that the United States will not renew exemptions granted in 2018 to five buyers of Iranian oil — top customer China as well as India, Turkey, South Korea, and Japan — pressuring importers to stop buying from Tehran.

The exemptions, or waivers, allowed the five countries to buy Iranian oil without facing U.S. sanctions. The White House has said that the decision to end them is intended to bring Iran’s oil exports — a key source of revenue for the authoritarian government — to zero.

The United States has said it was working with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, two of the largest oil exporters, to ensure the market was “adequately supplied.”

China
“China firmly opposes the U.S. implementation of unilateral sanctions and its so-called long-armed jurisdiction,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at an April 23 press briefing.
VOA

Saudi Arabia, Iran’s main regional rival, welcomed the U.S. decision to end all Iran sanctions waivers by May.

“Saudi Arabia fully supports this step…as it is necessary to force the Iranian regime to end its policy of destabilizing stability and its support and sponsorship of terrorism around the world,” Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Assaf said on April 23.

Japan has said it expects a limited impact from the U.S. decision.

“We will closely watch international oil markets and exchange views with Japanese companies involved in crude imports and may consider taking necessary measures,” Japan’s trade and industry minister Hiroshige Seko said on April 23.

Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh said on April 23 that the United States will not succeed in cutting the country’s oil exports to zero, telling parliament that Iran will work “with all our might…toward breaking America’s sanctions.”

A spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry dismissed the U.S. decision on April 22, calling sanctions “illegal” and saying that the country “did not and does not attach any value or credibility to the waivers.”

oil refinery
The White House announced on April 22 that the United States will not renew exemptions granted in 2018 to five buyers of Iranian oil — top customer China as well as India, Turkey, South Korea, and Japan — pressuring importers to stop buying from Tehran. Pixabay

The European Union said on April 23 it “regrets” the U.S. decision, warning that it would further undermine a 2015 agreement between world powers and Iran that granted Tehran sanctions relief in exchange of restrictions on its nuclear program.

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The United States quit the deal in May 2018, and renewed U.S. sanctions have hit Iran’s economy and contributed to the fall of the national currency, the rial.

The EU will “continue to abide by [the deal] as long as Iran continues with full and effective implementation,” EU foreign policy spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said. (RFERL)