AUGUSTA, ME— A larger share of children in small towns and rural areas of Maine rely on Medicaid to protect them from rising health care costs than those in urban areas, according to a new report released today by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families and the Rural Health Research Project of the University of North Carolina.
The report, Medicaid in Small Town America: A Lifeline for Children, Families and Communities, finds that 38 percent of Maine children living in rural areas and small towns receive health coverage through MaineCare, Maine’s Medicaid program, compared to 30 percent in urban areas. For adults, 19 percent in rural areas are covered by MaineCare compared to 13 percent in non-rural areas.
“Medicaid provides critical access to life-saving treatment and protection from rising health care costs to many children and families living in small towns and rural America,” said Joan Alker, Executive Director of the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families. “Cuts to Medicaid and other health care programs would take those protections away from many and risk financial ruin, denial of health care, or both.”
Statewide, over 130,000 Maine children rely on MaineCare each year. The proposed cuts to Medicaid funding either in the new health care bill or the proposed federal budget would fundamentally alter the way the program works now. It could either greatly reduce the number of children and families receiving coverage and/or shift the cost-burden on to state budgets. The report underscores that these cuts would disproportionally affect Maine children and families living in more rural areas of the state.
“When kids and families have health care coverage, our entire community is strengthened,” said Claire Berkowitz, Executive Director of the Maine Children’s Alliance. “More access to care can mean fewer visits to the ER, less uncompensated care and more people getting—and staying—healthy. We must not turn our backs on the progress we’ve made in getting our children the health coverage they need to succeed.”
The report primarily relies on data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS). The full report, along with interactive maps showing a county-by-county breakdown on health care coverage data, are available at: http://ccf.georgetown.edu.