Increasing federal match funds for states boosts enrollment of kids in health-care programs

August 7, 2012, University of Michigan Health System

Significantly more children get health insurance coverage after increases in federal matching funds to states for Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), according to new research from the University of Michigan.

The research, published Monday in the journal Health Affairs, showed that a 10-percentage-point increase in the federal match for and CHIP, similar to the increase that occurred with the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, is associated with an increase of 1.9 percent in the number of enrolled in Medicaid nationwide, or approximately 500,000 additional children.

"Throughout the past decade, Medicaid and CHIP enrollment for children has increased, while the level of uninsurance has decreased. Our study suggests that these combined federal and state programs have succeeded in providing for children, even as the number of children in poor and low-income families has increased," says Stephen Patrick, M.D., M.P.H., M.S., the study's lead author and a neonatal-perinatal medicine fellow in the Department of Pediatrics and at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital at the University of Michigan.

Patrick is a 2010-12 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar at the University of Michigan.

"Medicaid and CHIP work as a partnership between states and the federal government that benefits children," says Matthew M. Davis, M.D., M.A.P.P., associate professor in the Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit and the Division of General Medicine at the U-M Medical School and associate professor of public policy at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.

"We found a strong relationship between the federal share of funding, called the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage, and Medicaid enrollment for children over the past decade," says Davis, who is senior author on the paper.

"Congress can change the federal match at any time, and they have increased the match to help states during tough economic times," explains Davis. "The match was increased during our recent recession, but returned to previous levels in June 2011. We found that changes in FMAP are associated with significant changes in children's coverage through Medicaid and CHIP, even after accounting for state-level factors such as government revenues and proportion of children living in poverty."

It is not yet clear what effect the federal match decrease in 2011 will have on children's health care coverage.

"When states receive reduced federal funds for Medicaid, they may be forced to limit their outreach to enroll eligible children, restrict optional benefits, or otherwise reduce activities in their Medicaid programs that they might pursue," Patrick says. "It is clear from decades of research that children with coverage have better access to timely health care than children without coverage.

"The fact that it requires an act of Congress to respond to states' economic downturns through the federal match mechanism suggests that the match needs to be modernized," says Patrick.

The researchers analyzed publicly available data from all 50 from 1999 to 2009.

Explore further: Higher Medicaid payments to dentists associated with increased rate of dental care among children

More information: doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2011.0988

Related Stories

Higher Medicaid payments to dentists associated with increased rate of dental care among children

July 12, 2011
Children and adolescents from states that had higher Medicaid payment levels to dentists between 2000 and 2008 were more likely to receive dental care, although children covered by Medicaid received dental care less often ...

Families shifting from private to public health insurance for children: study

July 27, 2011
Families are increasingly relying on public health insurance plans to provide coverage for their children, a growing trend that researchers say is tied to job losses, coverage changes to private health insurance plans, and ...

Many kids on medicaid don't see dentist: study

June 7, 2012
(HealthDay) -- Only about one-third of U.S. children on Medicaid receives dental care in a single year, and how often these kids see a dentist depends on where they live, a new study finds.

Poorest Americans at risk if states opt out of Medicaid expansion

August 6, 2012
Health coverage for the poorest Americans could be in jeopardy in many states as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling last month on the Affordable Care Act, according to a new legal analysis. The report examines federal ...

Recommended for you

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

Teens likely to crave junk food after watching TV ads

January 15, 2018
Teenagers who watch more than three hours of commercial TV a day are more likely to eat hundreds of extra junk food snacks, according to a report by Cancer Research UK.

Can muesli help against arthritis?

January 15, 2018
It is well known that healthy eating increases a general sense of wellbeing. Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have now discovered that a fibre-rich diet can have a positive influence ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.