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Monday, April 14, 2014

Congress Should Make Funding for Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) a Top Priority

Shannon Attanasio

Senior Director of Government Affairs

Federal funding for CHIP, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) expires in September 2015. At a time when we are expanding health coverage through the Affordable Care Act, we must also ensure that CHIP—which, as of June 2013, provided health coverage to 5.7 million low-income children—continues well beyond next year.  If Congress does not extend CHIP in 2015, millions of children will be left without affordable health insurance.

93 percent of children in America have health insurance, thanks in part to CHIP

Since its inception in 1997, CHIP—a historically bipartisan, federal-state partnership health insurance program for low-income children in working families—has helped to reduce the rate of uninsured children. Thanks in part to CHIP, the rate of uninsured children is now relatively lower than that of other populations. A total of 93 percent of children in America have coverage.  Before CHIP was implemented, 12% of children were uninsured

CHIP, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act work together to provide health coverage for children

Together, CHIP, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act provide coverage for millions of children (and their families). CHIP and Medicaid provide insurance to 58 percent of children in America. As of June 2013, 5.7 million children were enrolled in CHIP, and another 28 million children were enrolled in Medicaid. 

Many more children have gained health coverage through the Affordable Care Act’s new health insurance marketplaces. The Affordable Care Act recognized the success of CHIP and extended and enhanced funding for the program. CHIP works hand-in-hand with the Affordable Care Act, and it provides important child appropriate health care benefits, such as screenings designed specifically to meet the needs of children. 

Moreover, CHIP covers many children that would otherwise fall into a gap in coverage known as the “family glitch.”  This is a coverage gap in the Affordable Care Act which prevents about 2 million children from getting subsidies to help pay for insurance in the health insurance marketplace. These children could go without affordable health coverage if CHIP is not continued.

Millions of children could lose health insurance without CHIP—encourage Congress to make funding CHIP a top priority in 2015

Congress should take action to continue funding for CHIP beyond September 2015. Families USA urges health care advocates to start the conversation on CHIP now. Talk to your state officials and governors. Contact your members of Congress.  Thanks to Medicaid, CHIP and the Affordable Care Act, millions of low-income children and families have made significant gains in health coverage—now is not the time to turn back. Let’s keep the momentum going and make funding CHIP a top priority in 2015.

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