Medicaid’s Role in Protecting Vulnerable Children & Families
May 1, 2020
Ohio’s Medicaid/CHIP program is a health insurance program for low income families and children. It is a state-federal partnership that helps healthy children stay healthy and sick children get the care they need. Medicaid provides a robust set of services to children through Ohio’s HealthChek program. These services help youth thrive and support healthy development.
In Ohio over 1.1 million children and nearly 1.6 million adults were receiving Medicaid in January 2020. However, during 2019, over 23,000 children lost Medicaid, and over 70 Ohio counties saw enrollment declines in Medicaid for children. This is concerning as these declines did not correspond with a gain in private insurance coverage. The growing child uninsured numbers are especially problematic as Ohio battles the COVID19 public health crisis. Action must be taken to ensure that families and children are able to access the healthcare they need.
On Wednesday, March 19th President Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. This law accomplished three main things to aid Medicaid in helping children and families:
- Provide Ohio a temporary increase in the federal Medicaid matching rate (FMAP) of 6.2 percentage points which could mean up to $1.2 billion by the end of 2020;
- Require Ohio to cover COVID-19 testing in Medicaid and CHIP without cost-sharing; and
- Require that Ohio not disenroll anyone receiving Medicaid as of March 18, 2020 or those that become eligible during the state of emergency.
The growing child uninsured numbers are especially problematic as Ohio battles the COVID19 public health crisis. Action must be taken to ensure that families and children are able to access the healthcare they need.
The Families First Act’s FMAP increase means that instead of the federal government’s share of Medicaid being 63%, it will be 69.2%, meaning an additional $1.2 billion to support Ohioans using Medicaid services. There is a proportional increase in CHIP FMAP. This will make more Ohio resources available to help additional adults and children who become eligible for Medicaid benefits. Under Medicaid’s state-federal partnership, for each dollar spent on services, Ohio pays $.37 and the federal government pays $.63. For children who receive Medicaid through the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), the federal share is $.85 of each dollar spent. Dollars invested in children’s health saves Ohio money.
Other important features of the Families First Act to protect families and children include:
- Expanding unemployment benefits with aid to states for processing;
- Requiring that certain employers provide paid sick leave to employees; and Providing Coronavirus diagnostic testing at no cost.
- Increasing funding for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP);
- Simplifying rules for schools to get meals to children while schools are closed;
- Easing rules so states can provide certain emergency SNAP benefits; and
- Establishing a federal emergency paid leave benefits program.
Of course, there is much more to be done, increasing FMAP to 12%, additional investments in child welfare to support some of our most vulnerable children, and additional support to make sure children are safe and cared for when our states begin re-opening businesses and the economy. CDF-Ohio continues to elevate these issues and more in the coming weeks and months.