New Report Finds Child Health Coverage in California Stabilized During Pandemic, Points...

New Report Finds Child Health Coverage in California Stabilized During Pandemic, Points to Importance of Continuous Coverage Policies


LOS ANGELES, Dec. 8, 2022 /PRNewswire-HISPANIC PR WIRE/ — Health coverage for California children stabilized during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families (CCF) released in collaboration with The Children’s Partnership and Children Now. Despite significant economic shifts and job market upheaval, California’s child uninsurance rate remained at a historic low of 3.5 percent between 2019 and 2021, thanks in large part to a federal law that ensured children enrolled in Medi-Cal had stable coverage during the public health emergency.

The Children's Partnership

The Medicaid continuous coverage protection was put in place as part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and provided states with enhanced funding to ensure individuals with Medicaid kept their coverage. CCF’s report examined state-by-state trends in the rate and number of uninsured children between 2019 and 2021, finding improvement in 12 states and stabilization in most others, including California. Prior to the pandemic, policies like 12-month continuous coverage for children in Medi-Cal helped California build a strong foundation for consistent coverage among children in low-income families.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and an uncertain economy have challenged California families in many ways. The fact that California’s uninsurance rates did not spike during the pandemic is a testament to the power of important health provisions, which have allowed more children and families to stay enrolled in Medi-Cal and keep access to the care they need to stay healthy,” said Mayra E. Alvarez, President of The Children’s Partnership. “As we begin to look beyond the pandemic, we are encouraged that our state has kept children connected to health coverage. This is particularly helpful to Black and Latino kids in our state, who are at even higher risk of losing coverage despite being eligible. We urge state leaders to further strengthen our system by continuing to move forward in implementing Medi-Cal continuous coverage for children from birth to age five.”

The continuous coverage protection is expected to remain in place at least until April 11, 2023. When it expires, California will begin the unprecedented task of redetermining eligibility for the more than 14 million individuals enrolled in Medi-Cal coverage. According to a separate analysis conducted by Georgetown University CCF, an estimated 6.7 million children are at risk of losing coverage when the continuous coverage protection expires, which could more than double the number of uninsured children nationwide. Most of the children losing coverage will remain eligible but will lose their coverage due to procedural reasons like lost paperwork.

“We can’t risk backsliding on the years of progress we’ve made in ensuring all California children have health insurance and coverage gaps are narrowed for kids of color,” said Mike Odeh, Senior Director of Health at Children Now. “We urge state leaders to stay committed to safeguarding children’s access to Medi-Cal coverage by swiftly moving forward with implementation of a multi-year continuous coverage policy for young kids that was approved in the 2022-23 state budget.”

The full report is available here and in-depth state data for California is available on the center’s interactive child health report dashboard.

The Center for Children and Families is a nonpartisan policy and research center based at Georgetown University McCourt School of Public Policy.

The Children’s Partnership (TCP) envisions a California where all children—regardless of their race, ethnicity or place of birth—have the resources and opportunities they need to grow up healthy and thrive, and its mission is to advance this vision of child health equity through research, policy and community engagement.

Children Now is a non-partisan, whole-child research, policy development and advocacy organization dedicated to promoting children’s health, education and well-being in California. The organization also leads The Children’s Movement of California, a network of over 5,000 direct service, parent, youth, civil rights, faith-based and community groups dedicated to improving children’s well-being.

Mayra E. Alvarez

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SOURCE The Children’s Partnership

New Report Finds Child Health Coverage in California Stabilized During Pandemic, Points to Importance of Continuous Coverage Policies