Medicaid Expansion Benefits Children

April 21, 2021

Medicaid Expansion Benefits Children

New Issue Brief from MO-AAP and Cover Our Kids Illustrates How Expansion Helps Kids Thrive

April 19, 2021 — While Medicaid expansion was created to provide uninsured adults access to health coverage, a new issue brief shows how it greatly benefits children too. Expansion has been shown to increase kids’ coverage, improve children’s health, and foster families’ economic stability – helping children thrive both now and in the future. Moreover, other states have shown that expansion does not require cutting existing programs or raising taxes.

“While Medicaid expansion doesn’t change children’s eligibility for coverage, we’ve seen that expanding health care for adults means kids are covered at a higher rate,” said Dr. Kristin Sohl, President of the Missouri Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics. “Plus, kids are then more likely to get the care they need for a strong start in life, like developmental screenings, growth monitoring, and immunizations.”

The benefits of expansion for children go beyond health care. Medicaid expansion reduces debt sent to collection agencies and improves credit scores, and evictions have been cut sharply in states that have expanded access to health insurance through expansion. By reducing economic stress, expansion helps protect children from many long-term consequences associated with financial instability.

“We know that improving the health of parents promotes the health and wellbeing of kids, both directly and indirectly,” said Mary Chant, CEO of Missouri Coalition of Children’s Agencies. “States that have expanded Medicaid saw a sharp drop in infant mortality, and when we ensure moms are supported with high-quality health care before, during and after pregnancy, we can help ensure a healthier start for our children.”

The states that have already expanded Medicaid have demonstrated these benefits can be accomplished without cutting programs or raising taxes. This is possible as a result of the financing dynamics underlying expansion. Specifically, the federal government pays 90 percent of the cost, and other states have shown that the 10 percent state obligation is offset by savings to existing state programs and the increased economic activity – and tax revenue – that results from expansion.

Brian Schmidt, Executive Director of Kids Win Missouri, summarized by saying “Expanding Medicaid has a direct impact on our ability to cover Missouri kids and families and improve their long-term health and financial stability.”