Bill wants to provide insurance for undocumented children

A bill introduced Feb. 11 would provide health insurance to children, mostly undocumented minors who are not eligible for Medicaid or other insurance programs.

The Cover All Delaware Children Act, sponsored by Rep. Krista Griffith, D-Faifax, would direct the Department of Health and Human Services to develop and operate a medical coverage program for Delaware children who are not otherwise covered, including children who are not. documented.

Officials said there were about 5,000 undocumented children in Delaware. Many have relatives who do not have employer health insurance or cannot enroll in federally funded health coverage programs Medicaid and CHIP. These children also do not receive health coverage through the public exchanges under the Affordable Care Act, officials said.

As a result, officials said, delayed care and emergency room care are not uncommon. One study showed that uninsured immigrant children were 6.5 times more likely to be delayed in care than insured immigrant children.

Under House Bill 317, a child residing in Delaware whose family income is low enough to qualify on that basis for Medicaid or CHIP coverage, but who is not eligible for Medicaid or other federal government, would be eligible for medical coverage and care. under the state-run program.

“Many of us take health insurance and its vital benefits for granted, but for thousands of Delaware children, there is no viable option for them to be covered. A simple trip to the doctor for an illness or to get vaccinated is not a financially viable option,” Griffith said.

Eight states (California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington) and Washington, DC currently provide health coverage for undocumented children.

Providing publicly funded health care coverage to low-income children dramatically improves their health and long-term outcomes, officials said. Medicaid coverage is linked to fewer chronic diseases, better overall health, better oral health, and fewer hospitalizations and emergency room visits in adulthood. More importantly, Medicaid is associated with lower mortality and longer lives, officials said.

“The children who would benefit the most from this program are a small population. And, adding this coverage for our undocumented children pays for itself with increased rates of high school graduation, college graduation, high school on time, college enrollment and four years of college graduation,” said Stephanie Ingram, president of the Delaware State Education Association.

If adopted by the General Assembly and enacted, the measure will enter into force on January 1, 2023.

HB 317 awaits action in the House Health & Human Development Committee.