The ACA Gave a Needed Boost to Utah’s Latino Child Health Insurance Rate

Voices Utah Children LogoThe number of uninsured Latino children nationwide and in Utah declined sharply as major provisions of the Affordable Care Act took effect, according to a new report from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families and NCLR.  Among Utah Latino children, 26,000 were uninsured in 2015 compared to 34,000 in 2013.

The report calls on lawmakers to build upon these gains and further reduce the uninsured rate. At 16.8%, Utah’s uninsured rate for Latino children is higher than every other state and the District of Columbia, and more than doubles the national rate. Utah is listed in the report as one of the ten states with the largest number of uninsured Latino children.

“Because of the collective impact of the ACA, CHIP and Medicaid, we are seeing real progress in helping all kids get connected with care, and reducing Utah’s high rate of uninsured Latino children,” said Jessie Mandle, health policy analyst at Voices for Utah Children.

The nation experienced the sharpest decline in the uninsured rate among Latino children on record after the ACA came into effect, dropping from 11.5% in 2013 to 7.5% in 2015. Despite these improvements, Latino children still make up a disproportionate share of the remaining uninsured children, comprising 25% of the American child population but 39% of uninsured children.

The improvement in the rate of health coverage for Latino children follows the positive trend in the overall children’s health coverage rate. The trend started with changes to Medicaid to benefit more children over two decades ago, the creation of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in 1997, and subsequent improvements to both programs. The ACA, which maintained and enhanced Medicaid and CHIP coverage for children, accelerated these positive trends.

“We must continue to build on this progress so that every child has the opportunity and ability to live a healthy life,” said Steven T. Lopez, NCLR Manager, Health Policy Project. “Efforts to undermine the ACA and Medicaid would put our progress at risk. We must look forward—not take a step back—because coverage is essential to our children’s health and our nation’s future.”

As soon as January 2017, Congress may take advantage of special rules that apply to budget reconciliation bills to repeal the ACA. Congress could indefinitely delay the more difficult task of replacing the ACA with a new bill to protect health coverage for children and families.

“Just as the U.S. approaches the point where all kids would have the health coverage they need to succeed, Congress is poised to make a U-turn on this path to progress,” said Georgetown University CCF Executive Director Joan Alker.

A report released last week by the Urban Institute found that if the ACA is repealed without a replacement, the number of uninsured Utahns would nearly double, rising from 328,000 uninsured Utahns to about 601,000.  The uninsured rate among children would more than double nationwide. Repealing the ACA without replacing it would not only eliminate the gains from the ACA, but result in even higher uninsured rates than existed before the ACA came into effect.    

“Repealing the ACA without a replacement strategy is not a plan; it’s a risky step that threatens the health and well-being of children and families,” said Mandle.

Mandle added that these programs are “vital for working families.” She urged parents to continue to learn about health insurance programs through the ACA, CHIP and Medicaid, and to see if their children or families are eligible. “We can’t let these coverage gains disappear. We have to keep moving forward so that all children can live healthier lives.”

To learn more about children’s health insurance options, parents can call 211 or visit

The Georgetown University Center for Children and Families and NCLR (National Council of La Raza) report is available at

The Urban Institute report is available at