Children are losing coverage — the Administration and Congress need to act now

By the CDHP team

At the start of 2017, US kids had made an important accomplishment: 95.3% of children had medical coverage and just about 90% had dental coverage. These numbers were the highest they had ever been. The upward climb in coverage has led to significant progress in children’s oral health. As more kids have gained dental coverage in recent years, their rate of untreated tooth decay has fallen, helping more children grow up healthy and ready to learn. But as 2017 wrapped up, a troubling trend emerged. Fewer children had coverage than in the previous year.

Unfortunately, as many of our partners have noted, 2018 marked an even stronger wave of this disturbing trend, especially for vulnerable populations once covered by the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Medicaid. In fact, last year, 840,000 children lost coverage. While the economy may be doing better, and employers are slightly more likely to offer coverage, evidence is growing that those positive developments are not strong enough to explain the drop in public coverage rates. Instead, this decline may be due to a combination of factors, including harsh administrative hurdles and concerning proposed regulatory changes.

Such compounded threats have led to children falling through these growing cracks in the system, risking their oral health and overall success. When kids are uninsured, they are less likely to have their oral health needs met. That can threaten a child’s healthy development, hinder their school success, and ultimately limit their potential.

No child should be held back from their dreams due to dental disease. The Children’s Dental Health Project joins a number of pediatric health advocacy partners in calling for state policymakers, officials at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and lawmakers in Congress to focus on fixing these issues. 

We are alarmed by this trend, but hopeful that policy makers will do whatever is necessary to reverse it. And we will be here to shed light on these gaps and propose solutions until all children have access to the oral health coverage and care that they need.

Read the joint press statement released by CDHP and eight other organizations at

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52% }
of new military recruits couldn't be deployed because of dental problems.
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