Fact Sheet: Stabilizing Health Care Access for Young Children Birth though Age 5

H-5986 (Slater) & S-247 (Lauria)

Stable health insurance coverage for babies and young children helps children receive high-quality and timely preventive health care, including vaccinations and screenings, routine care for illnesses, specialized health care when needed, and emergency health care services. Continuous eligibility for Medicaid/RIte Care during infancy and the early childhood years will help prevent gaps in coverage and improve access to health care.

Importance of Medicaid/RIte Care Health Coverage for Young Children in Rhode Island

In Rhode Island, at least 50% of babies and young children in Rhode Island have Medicaid/RIte Care coverage and approximately 57% of children under the age of three were enrolled in Rite Care/Medical Assistance in State Fiscal Year 2021.

Routine physical and developmental screenings occur over 14 recommended scheduled well- child preventive health care visits from birth through age five to identify potential developmental delays and disabilities, as well as emerging vision, hearing, dental, and physical conditions, as early as possible so that further appropriate evaluations, interventions, and treatments can be provided.

Young children experience six to nine acute, short-term illnesses per year that can require a health care visit and treatment, including respiratory viruses, gastrointestinal illness, croup, ear infections, conjunctivitis, fevers, and skin rashes and some young children have chronic, long-term illnesses that require frequent health care visits for evaluations, diagnosis, treatment, and management of these chronic conditions.

Benefits of Continuous Coverage for Young Children

Prevents harmful short- and longer-term gaps in coverage due to administrative churn.

Promotes health equity by ensuring consistent access to health care for low-income children who experience disproportionate rates of health disparities, particularly Children of Color.

Improves health status and well-being in the short and longer-term and supports school readiness.

Protects children and their families from large medical bills, medical debt, and reduces additional burdens including costs of emergency room care that is sometimes the only option to access routine health care for children who do not have health insurance coverage.

Drives more efficient healthcare spending, by reducing administrative costs associated with recertification and unnecessary disenrollments and reenrollments.

National Movement towards Multi-year Continuous Coverage for Young Children

Oregon recently became the first state to receive approval to provide continuous Medicaid coverage for young children from birth through age 5. Other states (Washington, New Mexico, Montana, Minnesota, Georgia, and California) are seeking to join Oregon in offering young children multi-year continuous coverage.


H-5986 (Slater) & S-247 (Lauria) – Establishes that children from birth through age five who are enrolled in Medicaid/RIte Care shall qualify for continuous eligibility until the end of the month in which their sixth birthday falls.