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Appalachia Health News tells the story of our health challenges and how we overcome them throughout the region. 

Medicaid and CHIP More Important in Rural Areas, Study Finds

Kara Lofton
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Two major non-partisan research groups released a study this week about the impact of Medicaid on children, families and communities in small-town, rural America.

“For the country as a whole we found that the role of Medicaid and CHIP in reducing the rate of insurance for kids and adults is even more important in rural areas and small towns,” said Joan Alker during a press conference at Riverside High School in Belle. “It’s disproportionately important to these communities.”

Alker, of Georgetown University, is one of the study’s four co-authors.

The study found that Medicaid and CHIP are providing insurance to just over half – 51 percent – of children living in small towns and rural areas in West Virginia. In fact, West Virginia is one of   14 states where more than half of kids are receiving insurance coverage through Medicaid and CHIP. Nationally, it's 45 percent of kids in small towns or rural.

Between 2008-2015, the study found the rate of uninsured children rural areas decreased by an average of 3 percentage points. The study also notes that during that time the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion also disproportionately impacted rural areas where the adult uninsured rates fell by an average of 11 percentage points.

The study, which  was coauthored by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families and the University of North Carolina Rural Health Research Program, offers no opinions on the current proposed ACA replacement plan.

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Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, with support from the Benedum Foundation, Charleston Area Medical Center and WVU Medicine.

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