Oct. 30 (UPI) -- A new study released Wednesday shows that more than 4 million children in the United States are not covered by health insurance, the most since the Affordable Care Act became law.
The number of uninsured children increased by more than 400,000 from 2016 to 2018, according to the study produced by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families. The report suggested that changes made by Republicans and President Donald Trump over that time have erased many of the gains the law had made in covering children.
"These coverage losses are widespread with 15 states showing statistically significant increases in the number and/or rate of uninsured children -- Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia," the report said.
The study said that only North Dakota covered more children over that period.
Latinos and whites were hit the hardest by the loss of coverage along with children in low- to moderate-income families that earn from 138 to 250 percent of the poverty rate.
"As a pediatrician, I understand first-hand how important health insurance coverage is to my patients; it helps ensure children can receive the care and services they need when they need them," Dr. Lanre Falusi, the American Academy of Pediatrics national representative, said in a statement.
"The findings in this report are deeply concerning to me. For children who are uninsured, I worry about the critical services they are missing out on and what it will mean for their short- and long-term health," Falusi said.
Since 2016, the Republican-led House and Senate eliminated ObamaCare's individual mandate to purchase health insurance, which led to more families ditching the coverage. The Trump administration then curtailed the ACA's outreach efforts to enroll people into the program.
"Recent policy changes and the failure to make children's health a priority have undercut bipartisan initiatives and the Affordable Care Act, which had propelled our nation forward on children's health coverage," Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, said in a statement.
"This serious erosion of child health coverage is due in large part to the Trump administration's actions or inactions that have made health coverage harder to access and have deterred families from enrolling their eligible children in Medicaid and CHIP."