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COVID-19 has resulted in low utilization rates for children's services

State and community leadership is needed to reach out to families to assure them it's safe to seek medical care for children, Verma says.

Susan Morse, Managing Editor

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has released new data that shows children in Medicaid and on the Children's Health Insurance Program have low rates of vaccination, primary and preventive services.

"The results of our analysis are startling," CMS Administrator Seema Verma said during a press call Wednesday.

What's needed to solve the problem of foregone medical care is state and community leadership and outreach to families to assure them it is safe to seek medical care for children, Verma said.

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WHY THIS MATTERS

COVID-19 has been a primary factor impacting service utilization for children age 18 and under enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP.

Preliminary findings show that children's service utilization for primary, preventive, dental and mental health services has dropped over the past few months, which can have negative consequences down the road.
 
When compared to data from the same time period last year (March through May 2019), preliminary data for 2020 shows 1.7 million (22%) fewer vaccinations for beneficiaries up to age 2; 3.2 million (44%) fewer child screening services; 6.9 million (44%) fewer outpatient mental health services, even after accounting for increased telehealth services; and 7.6 million (69%) fewer dental services.

THE LARGER TREND

Medicaid and CHIP cover about 40 million children. Three quarters live in poverty.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
Email the writer: susan.morse@himssmedia.com