Report Shows Rural Iowa Kids Depend on Medicaid

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June 8, 2017 – Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service (IA)

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The number of children on Medicaid living in rural communities in Iowa increased by six percentage points since 2009.(Pixabay)
The number of children on Medicaid living in rural communities in Iowa increased by six percentage points since 2009.(Pixabay)

DES MOINES, Iowa – The importance of Medicaid in small towns and rural parts of Iowa cannot be overstated, according to a new report from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families.

The research found that across the nation, a larger percentage of children in rural areas count on Medicaid compared with urban areas.

Anne Discher, interim executive director of the Child and Family Policy Center, says in Iowa it is 36 percent compared with 32 percent.

“The findings of this report really talk about what an important lifeline Medicaid is for children and families in our small towns and rural communities,” she states. “Forty percent of Iowans live in those communities and it just really shows how important Medicaid is for these communities.”

The report says the data underscores the importance of preserving funding for Medicaid and related services as Congress debates the American Health Care Act.

Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, calls Medicaid a crucial support for children, families, seniors and people with disabilities.

“Our nation’s leaders face a really important decision on whether or not to cut Medicaid and turn their backs on the progress we’ve made in helping children and families,” she states. “That’s so important for folks to understand that the Medicaid program is really the backbone of health insurance in these rural areas and small towns.”

Discher says in some cases, Medicaid is the only health insurance option in small towns and rural areas that have not recovered from the recession.

“It’s largely a function of economic opportunity and wages,” she stresses. “The incomes tend to be lower in rural areas and so Medicaid becomes a particularly important source of health insurance.”

According to the report, the number of children on Medicaid living in rural communities in Iowa increased by six percentage points since 2009.

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