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Utah among largest percentage declines in Medicaid, CHIP enrollment

caring mother wrapping sick children in blanket while sitting on sofa
caring mother wrapping sick children in blanket while sitting on sofa

Ciriac Alvarez Valle, senior policy analyst at Voices for Utah Children, said the process was full of "hiccups," and called it disheartening to see how many Utah children have lost coverage, not because they were ineligible, but due to procedural reasons.

"The real life consequences is that they aren't able to get their prescriptions, they aren't able to visit their doctors, they aren't able to just get those child visit checkups that they need," Alvarez Valle outlined. "It is hard for families too because sometimes they may not even know that their kids are uninsured until they go into the medical office."

Alvarez Valle encouraged families who were utilizing the programs to visit their MyCase accounts through the state's Department of Workforce Services where they can review their status and reapply if needed. She noted for those who may need assistance in a language other than English, she suggests getting help from health care navigators at Take Care Utah.

The report showed if the share of children losing coverage remains, it will mean a larger number of lower-income children will go without essential care, leading to poor health outcomes, as well as exposing their families to higher medical costs and debt.

Utah has a low participation rate in Medicaid and CHIP. In 2019, the state saw almost 80% of all eligible kids enrolled, compared to almost 92% nationally. Alvarez Valle added the unwinding process has highlighted the areas where state agencies and partners can work together to enhance outreach and enrollment.

"We don't have as much as we need when it comes to outreach and enrollment dollars and funding," Alvarez Valle contended. "I think more of that will definitely help families, and like you mentioned families of color, where there are community based organizations that work specifically with different groups."

Alvarez Valle emphasized substantial work remains to get the process more streamlined and accessible to everyone who needs it, saying her organization will be one to help make it happen.