On behalf of the Partnership for Medicaid – a nonpartisan, nationwide coalition of safety-net providers, counties, labor and health plans – we appreciate your leadership to protect children’s health and urge you to take action this year to continue funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). As you know, the funding authorization for CHIP is currently set to expire October 1, 2015, unless Congress approves its extension.
CHIP has been a reliable source of coverage for low-income children in working families whose parents earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but too little to afford private health insurance. Medicaid and CHIP serve as a vital safety net for our nation’s children. Since the creation of CHIP in 1997, the number of uninsured children has been cut nearly in half. Almost 93 percent of children have health coverage today and these incredible gains are in part because of the role of CHIP in covering millions of children nationwide. It is essential that Congress continues to fund CHIP in order to maintain our national investment in children’s health.
As organizations whose members provide health care to underserved populations, we see first-hand the difference that stable, affordable coverage makes for families and their children in accessing needed care. CHIP is an affordable coverage option that was specifically designed with children in mind. CHIP also allows states flexibility in designing their program and incentives for outreach and enrollment efforts that best meet the needs of their population. This has made CHIP a popular program among state leaders.
As states adjust to changes in health care coverage, we believe it is essential that Congress secure CHIP’s future this year so that states can continue to operate their programs without interruption. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the 12.7 million children expected to be enrolled in 2 fiscal year 2015 would be at risk of losing their CHIP coverage in 2016 if funding is not continued for the program.
Inaction or delayed action would allow funding for CHIP to lapse. This would disrupt coverage for millions of children and many children will have no other affordable coverage options available to them.
We look forward to working with the Administration, Congress and States to continue CHIP and ensure children have access to the care they need, when they need it.