Health Coverage Fosters Child Well-being

January 24, 2020 // Author: Kristen Davis

At Prevent Child Abuse TN (PCAT) we prevent child abuse and neglect by strengthening Tennessee parents, families and communities.   Our prevention programs align with the Center for Disease Control’s recommended strategies to increase the number of Tennessee’s children and teens growing up in safe, stable and loving homes and include: evidence based home visiting; parent coaching; connection to community resources and economic supports shown to increase financial self-sufficiency, access to physical, mental health and addiction treatment when needed, and  intervention with parents and kids experiencing domestic violence.    These same prevention strategies also align with Tennessee’s Building Strong Brains campaign to ensure the health and prosperity of future generations of Tennesseans by preventing child abuse and neglect in today’s families and communities.

PCAT is grateful for and honored to support TJC’s ongoing, statewide advocacy on behalf of children, teens and families whose healthcare insurance coverage comes from TennCare, Cover Kids or the Affordable Care Act (ACA).   All three programs reflect a national movement and a state commitment to ensuring that every child and teen has healthcare coverage because of its proven impact on their future well-being and prosperity.  Healthcare coverage also represents a tangible economic support in any family and plays a key role in any vulnerable parent’s capacity for financial self-sufficiency.  Beyond future well-being or family finances, healthcare coverage for children and teens greatly reduces the kind of fear and stress that occurs when parents are unable to provide for their children or protect them from suffering.  Parents who are less stressed are much better able to provide stable, loving homes for their children and teens.   Therefore, it is not surprising that according to a , states that expanded coverage through Medicaid saw fewer cases of child neglect. Simply put, increasing healthcare coverage for adults, children and teens strengthens Tennessee families and communities, contributes to the numbers of Tennessee kids growing up in safe, stable and loving homes, and is fundamental to ensuring adult health and prosperity in future Tennessee generations.

For these reasons, PCAT’s leadership is alarmed and disheartened by news uncovered by TJC, that between 2016 and 2019, 220,000 Tennessee children and teens were cut from TennCare not because their parents’ income increased above the limits for coverage, but because TennCare claims their parents failed to return completed renewal packets or other documents required for ongoing eligibility determination.  In the year ahead, PCAT will be supporting TJC’s advocacy to reinstate coverage for these children and teens by asking state leaders to reverse these enrollment decisions and presume ongoing need until the TennCare determination process is failsafe.   Tennessee’s vulnerable children and teens don’t deserve to bear the brunt of adult bureaucratic problems.

PCAT encourages anyone who believes in strengthening families and communities to go to TJC’s website for more information about the TennCare disenrollments and how to support upcoming efforts to reverse them.   (PCAT will be calling on our supporters and community partners to do the same. The health and well-being of Tennessee’s children depends on advocates staying informed and speaking up.

Kristen Davis is the President & CEO of Prevent Child Abuse Tennessee (PCAT).