Congress Fails to Extend CHIP and Places Millions of Children at Risks

The September 30 deadline to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) has come and gone. Congress took no action to fund CHIP for 2018 and beyond and has failed to ensure the health and well-being of the 9 million children in the U.S., including the 140,000 children in Maryland. At least 11 states will be out of funding for health insurance program for children in their state by the end of December.

CHIPS Provides Health Coverage to Uninsured Children
CHIP was made into law in 1997 and expanded into the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2009 to give health coverage to children of low-income, vulnerable families who do not have health insurance and do not qualify for Medicaid. Funded with federal monies, states can structure and administer the program to meet the specific needs of their uninsured children. Some states expand CHIP into Medicaid, some have separate programs and others combine the two. Parents typically have to pay a premium or co-payment based upon their income.

Benefits for Children and Families
Research and data shows that CHIP is essential for children and their families who otherwise have no access to health care. CHIP and Medicaid combined covers more than 1 in every 3 children in the U.S. CHIP covers children’s doctor visits, hospital care, lab test, emergency room visits, special needs therapies, dental and vision care, immunizations, prescription medicines, transportation to medical appoints, and mental health/substance abuse treatment. A study finds that the costs per child with CHIP is 40 percent lower than employer-sponsored insurance and Medicaid alone.

Here are the benefits of CHIP:
• Decrease in uninsured rate for children by half, from 14% to 7%.
• Ongoing access to affordable health care services, including dental services
• Reduction in preventable hospitalizations and child mortality
• High-level of satisfaction and peace of mind for families because they can keep their children well at an affordable price.

CHIP for Maryland’s Children
Maryland’s CHIP program, Maryland’s Children’s Health Program (MCHP), covers 10 percent of all children in Maryland. The state uses its CHIP funds to provide Medicaid to CHIP-eligible children up to age 19. Eligibility is based on the family’s size and income, which must be at or below 211% of the federal poverty level. For a family of three that’s $65,752 annually. MCHP has improved the lives of children in Maryland:
• Children’s health care coverage is at an all-time high with 96% of all Maryland children having health coverage – higher than the national average.
Maryland’s numbers for low-birthweight babies have also decreased over the past few years because of increased access to prenatal care for pregnant women which means healthier births.

CHIP Must Be Reauthorized
The Prince George’s County Child Resource Center believes all children need and deserve health care. We certainly are not alone: in September, the Kaiser Family Foundation conducted a poll in which 75% of Americans said it was important for Congress to reauthorize CHIP.

Children need health insurance to access appropriate health care so that they can learn and grow up healthy. If Congress continues to do nothing and wait, Maryland and other states will run out of money and millions of children will suffer for it. We cannot let Congress risk our children’s lives.

Click on these links to learn more about CHIP and the Maryland Child Health Program:

• CHIP Program

• Maryland Children’s Health Program: