Uninsured rate for Alaska Native children cut almost in half

by Trevor Storrs

Alaska is among the top states leading a national trend in improvements to health care coverage rates for American Indian/Alaska Native children, according to a new report by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families.

Between 2008-2015, the uninsured rate for Alaska’s American Indian/Alaska Native children was cut almost in half thanks largely to Medicaid. About 66% or 21,500 of Alaska’s American Indian/Alaska Native children rely on Medicaid coverage.

“This report helps put in perspective what is at stake if Congress succeeds with its efforts to cut Medicaid funding,” said Trevor Storrs, Executive Director, Alaska Children’s Trust. “This progress on children’s health could easily be reversed if these Medicaid cuts go through. There is no way our state could fill the funding gaps, given the state’s budget deficit, and that means children will fall through the cracks.”

Studies have shown that Medicaid coverage during childhood helps provide children with a critical link to future success. They are more likely to graduate from high school and grow up to be healthier more economically prosperous adults.

“At a time when Congress is considering extremely large cuts to Medicaid and a dangerous restructuring of the program, Alaska Native and American Indian families are especially at risk,” said Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families. “They face many barriers to success including higher rates of poverty and uninsurance and they depend on Medicaid significantly more than other families.”

Children make up half (48%) of all Medicaid enrollees in Alaska, nearly one-third of which are Native Alaskan children. The full report is available at ccf.georgetown.edu.

Trevor Storrs is the Executive Director for the Alaska Children’s Trust.

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