WNPR

Study Finds More Kids In Small Towns And Rural Areas Rely On Medicaid

Jun 7, 2017

Medicaid has become an increasingly important source of health insurance coverage for children in the United States. That’s especially true for children living in small towns and rural areas, according to a new report.

Researchers from Georgetown University and the University of North Carolina looked at health coverage data from two points in time. One in 2008-2009, the other in 2014-2015, before and after the Affordable Care Act was implemented.

The bottom line, according to the report, is that Medicaid covers a larger share of children in small towns and rural areas than in large metropolitan areas. This was true in 43 states.

That means changes to Medicaid coverage -- or a repeal of the ACA as passed by the U.S. House of Representatives -- would have an even more significant impact on people who live in rural areas than in metro areas, according to Tricia Brooks, associate research professor at the Georgetown Center for Children and Families.

“If that funding gets cut, then it not only has an impact on the people who lose coverage or lose benefits, but it could mean that rural hospitals close," Brooks said. "And that has an even bigger impact than health care access, because in many areas, the rural hospital is the biggest employer in the area.”

According to the report, Connecticut ranked sixth in the nation when it came to growth in Medicaid coverage for rural children.

But the report has this limitation: it only considered Litchfield County when taking into account the state’s rural population.