It’s Time to Fund Health Insurance for Kids Again

kids on playground
CONTENT HIGHLIGHTS
  • A critical component of the health care ecosystem for children is the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
  • CHIP helps families that earn too much to qualify for traditional Medicaid but too little to purchase other private health insurance.
  • Congress must act quickly to ensure this successful program does not expire.
  • Act now. Urge Congress to pass CHIP funding.
Friday, September 15, 2017

Why CHIP Must Be Sustained

Today, 95% of all American children have health insurance coverage, allowing our nation’s youth to access quality health care services and treatments at fairly reasonable costs. Without health insurance, children have little chance of accessing appropriate, quality health care. Children receive health insurance coverage through a parent’s employer-sponsored plan or through one of the government sponsored programs like Medicaid. A critical component of the health care ecosystem for children is the Children’s Health Insurance Program – known commonly as CHIP.

What is CHIP?

CHIP is intended to reach families that earn too much to qualify for traditional Medicaid but too little to purchase other private health insurance. It is operated by each state either as its own program or as part of the general Medicaid program. It is known under different names across states, such as HUSKY Program in Connecticut, KidCare in Florida, Child Health Plus in New York, and CoverKids in Tennessee.

CHIP is a federal-state partnership designed to give states broad flexibility in administering the program. Unlike Medicaid, CHIP was originally funded as a 10-year capped block grant to states, rather than as an individual entitlement program. Under CHIP, each state is given a certain amount of money per year, determined by a formula that was established by Congress. Since the first 10-year grant, approved by Congress in 1997, the program has been continually funded through reauthorizations every few years.

The current funding expires on September 30, 2017, and Congress must act quickly to ensure this successful program can continue and children do not lose access to health care.

CHIP’s Proven Track Record

While health care policy has been contentious and partisan for decades – with each party having distinct ideas about what is best for the health of our country – CHIP has historically been noncontroversial and enjoys bipartisan support. CHIP has a proven track record of providing high-quality, cost-effective coverage for low-income children in working families. Fortunately, there is agreement on the federal funding of health care for children. It is considered by many to be a model program that has reduced the numbers of uninsured children to record lows, even during the economic crisis that began in 2008, and it must be safeguarded.

The Impact of a Funding Delay

While a significant majority in Congress supports CHIP, the details of the funding structure have yet to be determined. Unfortunately, there is a misconception that a delay in the funding reauthorization will not have any negative effects. However, states need time to plan and it is critical that Congress fund this program in a timely manner. Without assurances that the funding will continue, states could begin to eliminate benefits and reduce coverage.

According to the latest numbers from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), there are 8.9 million children enrolled in CHIP-funded coverage. When combined with the 37.1 million children in traditional Medicaid, these critical programs cover more than 40 percent of all children in our country. Further, more than 30 percent of those with epilepsy have health care coverage through these programs, which is why this is such a priority for the Epilepsy Foundation.

Act Now to Protect Children’s Health

You can help encourage Congress to prioritize CHIP and work to immediately pass a bill by writing to your members today to express support for the program. Congress needs to act to protect children's health. Use our action alert to tell your members of Congress to pass CHIP funding now!

Authored by: Jenna Mathis, Government Relations Manager on 9/2017

Our Mission

The mission of the Epilepsy Foundation is to lead the fight to overcome the challenges of living with epilepsy and to accelerate therapies to stop seizures, find cures, and save lives.

 
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