102°F
weather icon Clear

More Nevada kids have health insurance, but state 9th worst

The number of children in Nevada without health insurance was cut by more than half between 2011 and 2016, but the state’s rate of uninsured kids remains the ninth-highest in the U.S., according to a new report.

The gains in insurance coverage occurred after passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010 and Nevada’s subsequent expansion of the federal Medicaid program, said Elizabeth Lukanen, deputy director of the State Health Access Data Assistance Center. The policy research center based at the University of Minnesota released the report Friday.

Denise Tanata, executive director for the Children’s Advocacy Alliance, a nonprofit in Nevada, said the state’s current rate of uninsured children of 6.3 percent is a big improvement from the beginning of the decade.

“We’re absolutely still behind, and we’ve got a ways to go to catch up, but we’re definitely moving in the right direction to do that,” Tanata said. “The fact we’re not last anymore is good.”

The report analyzed U.S. Census Bureau survey data in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., tracking changes in public and private coverage and in the uninsured rate by race and ethnicity and household members’ income and educational status.

From worst, to ninth

Lukanen said the drop in the state’s uninsured rate quickened after 2013.

That may have been the result of the ACA’s individual mandate requiring uninsured Americans to acquire health insurance or pay a penalty, which took effect the next year, Tanata said. Parents typically buy their children insurance when acquiring it for themselves, she said.

The Medicaid expansion, which doubled the number of Nevadans insured under the program to 600,000, also took effect the next year, lowering the uninsured rate for children and adults alike.

“Definitely, Nevada was sort of a standout state in terms of reductions in uninsurance,” Lukanen said.

The 8.1 percentage point decline in the state’s uninsured rate among children between 2013 and 2016 was the largest percentage point drop in the nation, she noted.

Even so, Nevada remains among the worst states in terms of its uninsured rate among children. That’s because it started as worst in the nation in 2013, when 14.4 percent of children in the state lacked health insurance, ahead of No. 2 Texas, which had a rate of 13.2 percent.

“It’s kind of an uphill battle,” Lukanen said.

Disparities persist

Despite significant improvements across the board, disparities in insurance rates persist in the Silver State. About 10 percent of Hispanic children and children from households where family members achieved a high school education or less still lack health insurance, the report said.

One reason may be that parents whose children are eligible aren’t signing them up.

For example, undocumented parents often fear sharing their personal information with the government could lead to deportation or cancellation of a residency application, Tanata said, meaning they are reluctant to apply for their citizen children.

That’s despite the 2017 passage of state Senate Bill 325, which eliminated the five-year wait period to become eligible for Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Plan previously required for children who were granted legal residence.

Lukanen and Tanata fear that questions about the future of the Affordable Care Act and the demise of its individual mandate provision, as well as anti-immigrant rhetoric from some Republican lawmakers, could reverse the progress made in Nevada and across the nation.

“I think every time you infuse uncertainty and question into a policy area, people get confused and, most likely, lose out,” she said.

Contact Jessie Bekker at jbekker@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4563. Follow @jessiebekks on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Media's Double Standard On Incitement And Trump - Video
Over the weekend, an Elizabeth Warren-supporting socialist who opposed gun violence used a rifle to commit a mass murder in Dayton, Ohio. The media has downplayed that aspect of the tragedy.
Project Our Care Tour Kicks Off In Las Vegas
U.S. Rep. Dina Titus joined health care advocates and local residents as part of Protect Our Care’s nationwide bus tour kick off in Las Vegas on Monday, August 5, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders talks about guns, response to El Paso shooting
Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke about his response and continued policy ideas about guns and gun control to the Review-Journal after a panel of other topics. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pete Buttigieg On Gun Control And Climate Change - Video
Pete Buttigieg talks about his campaign for the 2020 election and how Nevada is a vision of what the future can be.
Beto O'Rourke speaks in Las Vegas
Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke spoke to supporters at the East Las Vegas Community Center in Las Vegas, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2019. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Nevada Senate leader Kelvin Atkinson sentenced to prison
Former Nevada Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson, who pleaded guilty to misusing campaign funds, was sentenced to 27 months in prison on Thursday, July 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trumps Strength is also a Weakness - Video
One of Donald Trump’s greatest strengths — his ability to shape national narratives — is also a great weakness.
Tax the Rich Bus Tour makes a stop in Las Vegas - Video
The Tax the Rich Bus has stopped in Las Vegas as part of its summer tour. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ - Video
Assembly Woman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ to bring the community together to hear about the candidates up for election and for people to gather and have fun.
Democrat Virtual Caucus - Video
Elizabeth Warren visits Las Vegas
Senator Elizabeth Warren made a campaign stop at the East Las Vegas Community Center on Tuesday July 2, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Aaron Ford Speaks About Bill AB431
AB431 is a bill sponsored by Nevada Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson to restore the right to vote for formerly incarcerated individuals. Attorney General Aaron Ford spoke at the AM&E Church in North Las Vegas about the bill, on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Right Take: Biden's Racially Questionable Comments
Joe Biden has uttered racially charged statements for years. Now that he’s the frontrunner for the Democrat presidential nomination, he may finally face prolonged scrutiny for them.
Christopher Rufo Discusses Homelessness In The USA - VIDEO
Christopher Rufo discusses homelessness in the United States and how politicians can work to improve conditions for those with drug addictions.
Clark County 2019 Election Results - Video
The 2019 Elections wrap up in Clark County including an upset in the Boulder City Mayor race.
Olivia Diaz talks about her win in Ward 3 - VIDEO
Las Vegas City Councilwoman-elect Olivia Diaz talks about her election win in Ward 3 and what lies ahead for her.
Greene discusses Read by 3 and Opportunity Scholarships - VIDEO
The Nevada Legislative Session is over and the results are mixed for Nevada students, according to Tom Greene, Senior regional legislative director, Excel in Ed in Action.
Bernie Sanders visits Las Vegas
Sen. Bernie Sanders made a stop at Roy W. Martin middle school on Thursday, during his campaign trail.
THE LATEST
Planned Parenthood looks for funding after leaving federal program

Planned Parenthood clinics are charging new fees and warning of more unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases after its decision to quit a $260 million federal family planning program.