A new study from researchers at
12-month continuous eligibility is a policy that addresses "churn," a phenomenon where people with Medicaid and CHIP coverage lose eligibility because of bureaucratic paperwork issues or short-term changes in income. They often return to the program sicker than when they left, costing Federal and state taxpayers more than if they had been continuously covered.
The study, authored by
The study found continuous eligibility in Medicaid to be associated with:
* A 1.5 percentage point increase in the number of children who saw a specialist in the past year;
* A reduction of unmet needs for specialty care by 6.0 percent, or about one-third;
* An increase in preventive care visits in the past year by 2.7 percentage points; and
* A reduction in gaps in insurance coverage by 2.4 percentage points, equivalent to reducing the number with a coverage gap by almost one fifth.
"COVID-19 has led to a steep rise in uninsurance among children, but the unfortunate truth is that the proportion of children with no health insurance had been rising since 2017, reversing the trend of years of progress," said study author
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act called on states to provide continuous coverage for Medicaid enrollees during the period of the public health emergency. But even after the public health emergency ends, the nation will experience higher unemployment, greater poverty and economic volatility.
"Continuous Medicaid eligibility would close some of the gaps in our insurance system and assure better access to care for a longer period. Given that so many people have avoided the doctor's office in the midst of the pandemic, the real need may not come until after the pandemic subsides," said
The study also found special challenges for immigrant children, who had less insurance coverage and less medical care. This finding may owe itself to eligibility policies that bar many immigrant children from Medicaid coverage, such as recent public charge regulations by the
"Children who are immigrants, many of whom are in