A bill proposed by Representative Steve Helms would strengthen children’s health coverage in Missouri.
A news release says House Bill 2379 would allow eligible children to keep their Medicaid coverage for a full 12 months, preventing kids from cycling on and off their coverage throughout the year.
“Ensuring children have continuous health coverage will help them grow into happy, healthy and successful adults,” Director of Outreach and Engagement for Kids Win Missouri Casey Hanson said. “This is a critical step our state can take to invest in our children’s health and help kids and families obtain and keep coverage.”
Currently, Medicaid eligibility is based on a family’s monthly income, so slight fluctuations in parents’ earnings can cause children to temporarily lose their Medicaid health coverage. For example, farmers and other seasonal workers who earn most of their money in peak season or retail workers who pick up an overtime shift are at risk of losing coverage for their children as a result.
“Children who have health insurance without gaps are healthier, and when they’re healthier, they do better in school, and even earn more as adults,” said Dr. Christina Moellering, a pediatrician from Springfield. “Doctors can build relationships with kids and their parents, laying the foundation for healthy habits and getting a handle on any chronic conditions or developmental delays before they become more serious.”
Beyond the benefits for children and families, states can reduce unnecessary administrative and hospital costs by adopting 12-month continuous eligibility.
“States incur costs when kids lose their coverage,” said Amy Blouin, President of the Missouri Budget Project. “There are administrative costs to disenrolling and re-enrolling, as well as emergency visits that are otherwise avoided when kids can access affordable preventive care.”
With the state on the verge of implementing quarterly reviews of Medicaid eligibility, advocates and lawmakers agree on the importance of protecting children’s coverage and improving the system.
“Continuous coverage is good for Missouri kids,” Representative Helms said. “These changes not only improve outcomes but make the process easier both for families and for the state. That’s what building a best in class system is about.”