Many Medicaid, CHIP enrollees skipped routine medical care during early days of pandemic
CMS announced that rates of vaccinations and primary and preventive services among the 40 million children enrolled in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program “steeply declined” during first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The agency also said “the potential for increased outbreaks of infectious disease due to decreased vaccinations is real, and can result in decreased school attendance, decreased learning and increased childhood illness in general.”
CMS analyzed claims data from pediatric enrollees in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, from March through May vs. the same period in 2019. The analysis showed that in 2020, there were:
- about 22% fewer (1.7 million) vaccinations for children aged 2 years and younger;
- about 44% fewer (6.9 million) outpatient mental health services (when accounting for telehealth visits);
- about 44% fewer (3.2 million) child screening services; and
- about 69% fewer (7.6 million) dental services.
“The absence of these vital health care services may have lifelong consequences for these vulnerable children,” Seema Verma, CMS administrator, said in a press release. “I call on states, pediatric providers, families and schools to ensure children catch up on overdue medical, behavioral health and dental appointments as well as childhood immunizations.”
Other CMS data show that more than 250,000 children and teenagers received a COVID-19 test. Also, less than 0.1% (about 32,000) have received treatment for COVID-19 under Medicaid or CHIP, although fewer than 1,000 required hospitalization. The delivery of any services via telehealth to children in Medicaid and CHIP increased by over 2,500% from February to April, but it is not enough to offset the decline in care, CMS said.