As NBC News explains, the number of uninsured children in the United States is rising for the first time in a decade:
After years of steady decline, the number of U.S. children without health insurance rose by 276,000 in 2017, according to a Georgetown University report released Thursday.
While not a big jump statistically — the share of uninsured kids rose to 5 percent in 2017 from 4.7 percent a year earlier — it is still striking. The uninsured rate typically remains stable or drops during times of economic growth. In September, the U.S. unemployment rate hit its lowest level since 1969…
…Study author Joan Alker and other child health advocates place the blame for this change on the Trump administration and the Republican-controlled Congress, saying their policies and actions cast a pall on enrollment.
As Jessica Seaman writes for the Denver Post, health insurance coverage for kids in Colorado is looking equally grim:
The number of children in Colorado with health insurance has increased for almost a decade, but now the decline in the state’s youth uninsured rate is stagnating — and advocates fear more children could lose coverage due to a rule change proposed by the Trump administration.
The number of uninsured children in Colorado remained unchanged in 2017, with about 57,000 individuals under 19 without coverage, according to a new report by Georgetown University Health Policy Institute’s Center for Children and Families.
That stagnation comes after Colorado saw the percentage of children without health insurance drop from 14 percent in 2008 to 4.3 percent in 2016, according to Colorado Children’s Campaign, a nonprofit group advocating for children’s health and education…
…Political events on the national stage attributed to a notion that public coverage was at risk, leading to the jump in uninsured children.
It’s difficult for Republicans to argue that an increase in uninsured children is not their fault, particularly given the fact that the U.S. unemployment rate is lower than it has been in decades. Congressional Republicans spent much of 2017 trying, and trying, and trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). While they never managed to wrangle enough votes to support a full repeal, Senate Republicans and President Trump still figured out a way to bleed the ACA by removing the “individual mandate” section of the law and allowing cut-rate and generally worthless insurance programs to be sold. Senate Republicans also let funding lapse for the Children’s Health Insurance Project (CHIP) for several months; the GOP tried to hold the program hostage as a bargaining tool over immigration and federal budget issues but ultimately folded what was an obviously-weak hand.
Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) has supported every recent GOP effort to cripple the ACA, though he’s also very well of the political danger this creates for his own re-election in 2020; in October, Gardner joined other Senate Republicans in pushing for a toothless resolution intended to make it look like they were truly concerned about coverage for pre-existing medical conditions.
When pressed on healthcare policy issues, Gardner just vomits out nonsense talking points hoping that reporters give up on getting a real response. When he thinks he can get away with it, Gardner works hard to both support AND oppose legislation to gut healthcare access for Americans. But when it comes to declining health insurance rates for children specifically, Gardner is completely stuck; the numbers are clear and there is no plausible story he can tell whereby he can cast himself as anything other than completely implicit in keeping sick kids from seeing a doctor. In fact, things would be even worse in this regard had any of Gardner’s preferred policy measures been implemented.
The number of uninsured children in the U.S. and Colorado will almost certainly increase in the next two years. You can expect to see plenty of television ads pointing this out in advance of the 2020 election.
Gardner was already looking at a very difficult re-election in Colorado after Democrats demolished Republicans in 2018. Add this issue to the mix, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to see how Gardner can possibly end up with another term in the U.S. Senate.