Report: Pandemic exposed deep disparities in health coverage for Pa. kids | Friday Morning Coffee
While threats to safety net programs existed before the pandemic, newly released data shows the pandemic’s ‘disproportional impacts … by race and ethnicity on Pennsylvania households with children’
Good Friday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
There’s been plenty of anecdotal evidence about the economic hardships the COVID-19 pandemic inflicted on families in Pennsylvania and nationwide. But a newly released report tries to quantify that data, while it illustrates the disproportionate hardships suffered by Black and brown Pennsylvanians over the last 18 months.
- “Black households with children were nearly 3.5x more likely to report they sometimes or often did not have enough to eat in the past week than NonHispanic White households with children,
- “Black adults in households with children were nearly 1.5x more likely to delay medical care because of the COVID-19 pandemic than Non-Hispanic White adults in households with children,”
- And “60% of Black households with children reported difficulty paying for usual household expenses, including rent or mortgage, medical expenses, food, and car payments, compared to 24% of Non-Hispanic White households with children, and 16% of Asian households with children.”
The report casts a wide net, looking at the pandemic’s impact on enrollment across several, publicly funded insurance programs, including Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program; its effect on childhood vaccinations, and it examines how policy-makers can prepare for the end of the pandemic.
The group also acknowledges that, because of a lack of data brought on by the pandemic, “we do not have all of the pieces of the puzzle.”
“We know that enrollment in Medicaid increased for children of color, which might be due to the loss of employer-sponsored insurance,” the report’s authors wrote. “Additionally, being out of work could certainly result in not being able to put enough food on the table. Delaying medical care could be for reasons such as avoiding waiting rooms or public transportation for fear of contracting COVID-19.
“Using data disaggregated by race and ethnicity coupled with feedback from impacted communities can help achieve equitable outcomes,” the document concluded.
Though challenged by the same lack of data, the report does attempt to quantify if an ongoing shift away from employer-sponsored insurance to public coverage for children was exacerbated by the pandemic.
The currently available data suggests that’s the case, since “enrollment in public coverage has increased during the pandemic as families have turned to Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Pennie, the state-based marketplace, for free or low-cost health insurance options.”
Taken together, those three sources provided coverage for 45.9 percent of the commonwealth’s children, the report concluded.
All 67 of the state’s counties showed increased enrollment in Medicaid and the state’s Children’s Health Insurance Program, for an overall increase statewide of about 10 percent, according to the report. The 10 counties with the highest percentage change in enrollment, ranging from 12.8 percent to 18.6 percent, were: Bradford, Northumberland, Adams, Centre, Susquehanna, Chester, Carbon, Dauphin, Sullivan, and Cumberland counties, the report showed. The 10 counties logging the lowest percentage change in enrollment, ranging from 1.5 percent to 8.4 percemt, were: Forest, Cameron, Philadelphia, Erie, Bedford, Wyoming, Jefferson, Allegheny, Blair, and Fayette counties, the report showed.
The report makes a number of recommendations to policymakers.
- “Encouraging the [Department of Human Services] to use the full 12 months permitted to complete [coverage] renewals for everyone at their next annual renewal due date, holding pregnant adults until after April 2022 to account for the expected postpartum extension.
- “Enhancing the automated renewal process, also known as “ex-parte” renewals, where the state reviews electronic data sources to renew coverage automatically without the family having to submit forms,” and
- “Ensuring a smooth transition to Pennie or CHIP for those terminated from Medicaid to keep children connected to health insurance. DHS should work with Pennie to make sure it can electronically transmit all necessary data fields for Pennie to make determinations about eligibility for its insurance affordability programs, and update notices to families explaining the process of shopping for plans and eligibility for reduced premiums.”
“As we have illustrated throughout this report, there are practical and policy steps to better connect Pennsylvania children to health insurance and reduce known disparities,” the report concludes. “We invite other child health care advocates, medical professionals, and policymakers to join us in ensuring that every child living in Pennsylvania has regular and uninterrupted access to health care as the first line of defense to remaining healthy.”
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Here’s your #Pennsylvania Instagram of the Day:
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What Goes On
The House and Senate both come in at 11 a.m. today.
10 a.m., Live Streamed: Senate Democratic Policy Committee
Gov. Tom Wolf has no public schedule today.
You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Best wishes go out this morning to once (and future?) Pa. House candidate Heather MacDonald, of Camp Hill, Courtney McFarland, of the LeTort Trust, Steve Ibanez, at Advance Local, veteran educator advocate, all of whom celebrate today, and to ex-Rendellie, Donna Cooper, who celebrates on Saturday. Congratulations and enjoy the day, all.
We’ll go out this week with a classic from The Pet Shop Boys: Here’s the extended mix of ‘Suburbia.’
Friday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link
Toronto pulled out a squeaker, beating Tampa 2-1 in overtime on Thursday night.
And now you’re up to date.
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