The safety net that emerged in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic was a game-changer for lower-income Americans. Millions of children were lifted out of poverty, and a historic number of Americans were able to access public health care.
Now, the United States is cutting back the final pieces of its COVID-era policies, and the consequences are readily apparent. In April, a pandemic policy barring states from kicking people off Medicaid ended, and conservative states have wasted no time thinning their rolls.
Roughly four million Americans have been cut off from Medicaid since the provision ended, according to KFF. The KFF report notes that not all states report their enrollment data, which means this is likely an undercount.
And the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates more will follow. They estimate that roughly 15 million Americans will leave Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Approximately 2.2 million Black Americans are expected to lose coverage, according to HHS.
The biggest losers in this scenario are children. Approximately 10 million children and young adults are expected to lose coverage, according to the report.
So far, the coverage losses are primarily in states that you’d expect. Texas has taken the lead, having taken over 500,000 of its rolls. Florida is not that far behind. Over 400,000 people have been cut off from Medicaid in the sunshine state.
The impact of the Medicaid policy is especially pronounced, but it’s not the only time the end of a pandemic-era initiative has had a massive impact. For example, the pandemic-era child tax credits were a massive boon to families, And without them, many families fell back into poverty.
According to the Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University, in the immediate aftermath of the tax credits ending, the monthly child poverty rate for Black children went up from 19.5% to 25.4%. And roughly 3.7 million children entered poverty.
Despite the positive impacts of these programs and the costs of cutting them, there doesn’t appear to be much of a political appetite for bringing them back, even as millions lose their health insurance.
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