Original article written by Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar for the Associated Press
According to federal officials, a sharp decline in routine medical care for low-income children during the coronavirus shutdown could cause long-term harm if not reversed. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) data found that vaccinations, screening for childhood diseases, dental, and mental health care all dropped precipitously from March through May of this year, when doctors’ offices were closed and parents were anxious to bring their children in. “The absence of these vital health care services may have lifelong consequences for these vulnerable children, and I call on states, pediatric providers, families, and schools to ensure children catch up,” CMS administrator Seema Verma said in a statement. This data comes from an analysis of billing records from Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which together cover nearly 40 million low-income children. CMS said more recent data has shown an increase in childhood immunizations since May, but the agency stressed that immunizations need to greatly increase in order to make up for the missed services during the height of the pandemic.