Advancing Children’s Health Coverage and Care

by Mayra E. Alvarez

Over the past six years, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and subsequent efforts to build on its impact have made incredible improvements in the lives of tens of millions of Americans. As a result, health insurance is fairer, more affordable, and more accessible across the country. In California, one of the greatest success stories for health reform, the law has opened doors to coverage for over six million consumers. California was the first state in the nation to enact legislation creating a health insurance marketplace, Covered California, and an early adopter of the Medicaid expansion to ensure more low-income Californians enrolled in coverage. In taking a lead on implementation, California has put the needs of consumers first and provided greater security for children and families.

 
Providing quality health insurance and care is an investment in the future of our children and lays the groundwork for children to succeed in school and life. Before the passage of the ACA, increases in public coverage through both Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) placed a national focus on children’s coverage. As a result, the national rate of uninsured children fell more than 65 percent from 14.9 percent to 4.8 percent between 1997 and 2015. With this strong foundation, the ACA created new coverage opportunities for the majority of the remaining uninsured—primarily adults. 

Today, over 5.6 million children, more than half of California’s children, are enrolled in Medi-Cal. Medi-Cal provides affordable health care to children who need it most—especially millions of children of color who have historically faced disproportionately poorer health outcomes. A strong future for health care in America will build on the progress of the ACA, but it also requires us to defend and enhance Medicaid and CHIP at the federal and state levels, given their historic success in providing child-specific health benefits to the nation’s most vulnerable children.

Our new report, “The Affordable Care Act and Children’s Coverage in California: Our Progress and Our Future,” offers a look into the incredible progress California has made in health care reform and the future actions we must take to continue to support a healthy future for all California children, including furthering children’s coverage successes through the strengthening of Medicaid and CHIP. In conjunction with the report, our California and federal action agendas present our recommendations for advancing children’s coverage.

At The Children’s Partnership, we have proudly joined national and statewide partners to advocate critical health care reforms impacting millions of children and families, before and as part of the ACA. As we reflect on these past six years and celebrate the incredible accomplishments to advance the health of American families, we will continue to serve as a voice for children and work to improve a system of coverage and care that serves our children and their specific needs. We look forward to ongoing work with our partners to make this a reality.

Read the report and action agendas at:www.childrenspartnership.org/childrenandtheaca.

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