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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Happy 2nd Birthday CHIPRA!

Kate Blocher

Staff Writer

Two years ago, President Obama signed the Children’s Health Insurance Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA), which extended the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and provided much-needed resources to help states enroll eligible children. CHIP, along with Medicaid, provides health coverage for children in low- and moderate-income families.

Over the past 13 years, CHIP and Medicaid have been critical to helping American families provide health coverage for their children. During times of economic insecurity, CHIP and Medicaid have provided a vital safety net for families who lose their job-based health coverage. The reauthorization of CHIP has allowed states to continue to help these families provide their children with the care they need.

Since the passage of CHIPRA, states have made significant progress in covering children. In 2010, 2.2 million additional children were enrolled in CHIP and Medicaid (bringing the total number of enrolled children to 42 million). Enrolling these children gives their parents peace of mind knowing that they can take their sick child to the doctor without completely draining their budgets.

According to the 2010 CHIPRA Anniversary Report released by HHS last week, Connecting Kids to Coverage:  Continuing the Progress, states are well on their way to modernizing and simplifying enrollment and renewal procedures for kids. The CHIPRA birthday report highlights that:

  • CHIPRA performance bonuses have encouraged states to cut red tape for families and increase enrollment of children who are eligible for coverage. As a result, 15 states have qualified for a total of $206 million in performance bonuses for fiscal year 2010.  
  • More states are using technology to facilitate children’s enrollment and retention in Medicaid and CHIP. Already, 32 states have an online application that can be submitted electronically, and 29 states allow applicants to sign those applications online.

These are important gains, but even these improvements do not mean that the job is finished.  Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Kathleen Sebelius recently issued a challenge to find and enroll 5 million more children who are eligible for Medicaid or CHIP, but not yet enrolled. What is more, just last week on February 4, 2011, the two-year anniversary of CHIPRA, HHS announced that it will make $40 million available to state and community organizations for outreach and enrollment activities to help achieve that goal.

In the years leading up to 2014, states will continue to strengthen their CHIP programs and make enrollment more efficient and easier for parents. With these improvements, the goal of 5 million new enrollees can be achieved, and more children will be able to go to the doctor when they get sick.