21
September , 2017
Thursday

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(New America Media)

Among the foremost children’s advocates in Washington DC, some are concerned that the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), one of the most popular health coverage programs, may not be reauthorized.

The majority of CHIP’s funding is set to expire in 2015. The program provides health coverage for children from lower-income families that do not meet the income requirements for Medicaid and don’t have access to coverage through an employer. The program currently covers more than 8 million children, and since its inception in 1997 has cut the rate of uninsured children by almost half.

“We would contend that all 8 million kids would be worse off [if the program were to be eliminated],” said Bruce Lesley, the president of First Focus, one of the nation’s leading youth research and advocacy organizations. Some children might move into the state health insurance exchanges, but Lesley says that the coverage on the exchange would be “inferior” to the coverage children have through CHIP, due to CHIP’s cost-sharing as well as pediatric networks and quality standards that are specific to children.

“The Children’s Health Insurance Program plans are immensely stronger than those that are offered in the exchange,” he said.

Additionally, he says, some kids will lose access to coverage altogether if CHIP is allowed to expire. Because of the so-called “family glitch” in the Affordable Care Act, some families who need subsidies to purchase insurance for their children on the exchange won’t be able to get help.

Families don’t qualify for subsidies if “affordable” coverage is offered through an employer (that is, 9.5 percent or less of the employee’s total household income). The “glitch” is that the law only stipulates that the individual employee must be offered affordable insurance, not the rest of his or her family. So some families that need subsidies in order to afford insurance for their children won’t get them.

Lesley is optimistic about a bill that was introduced today by Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM). The bill would allow lawfully present immigrant children who are eligible for CHIP or Medicaid to obtain coverage without the 5-year waiting period enforced by many states. It would also allow youth participating in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to have access to CHIP or Medicaid, or to obtain coverage in the state marketplaces. Further, it would eliminate the 5-year waiting period imposed by some states on lawfully present immigrant women who are pregnant.

For questions, please contact Ed Walz with First Focus.
edw@firstfocus.net
202-657-0685

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