Future of children’s health insurance program (CHIP) put into question
24th March 2014 · 0 Comments
By Nayita Wilson
The 2015 expiration of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) has advocates asking Congressional leaders to commit to funding the program beyond the expiration date.
CHIP, which provides coverage to about eight million U.S. children, is a federal-state program that provides coverage for children who don’t qualify for Medicaid but whose parents cannot afford private coverage.
Currently, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010 retains CHIP’s eligibility standards through 2019 and funds the program through October 2015. ACA also provides $40 million in federal funds to promote Medicaid and CHIP enrollment.
More than 400 advocacy groups in support of the program recently sent a letter to President Barack Obama as well as minority and majority leaders in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives asking them to “secure CHIP’s future this year so that states can operate their programs without interruption.”
The challenge, according to Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus, a bipartisan advocacy group on federal policy and budget issues relating to issues affecting children which coordinated the letter, is that children currently enrolled in CHIP may find themselves uninsured if the program expires and parents can’t afford to go into the private markets.
Additionally, children who are forced to go into the exchange market brought about by ACA, may find themselves in receipt of “inferior” benefits, he said.
“States need to plan,” said Lesley who noted that political reservations amongst Democrats who “don’t want to see Medicare open up” and republicans who “because of their dislike for ACA see anything as bad,” can also hinder actions around CHIP.
In Louisiana, the Louisiana Children’s Health Insurance Program (LaCHIP) provides coverage to children up to the age of 19 who meet citizenship and income criteria that deem them eligible to receive health care, mental health, immunizations and other medical services.
Approximately 121,095 Louisiana children were enrolled in LaCHIP in June of last year according to LaCHIP’s 2013 annual report.
One Louisiana organization, Mary Queen of Vietnam Community Development Corporation, Inc. (MQVNCDC), signed the letter in support of seeing CHIP remain in place.
Tap Bui, deputy director for MQVNCDC, said, “As a nonprofit organization providing services to the underserved communities of New Orleans East, we hope that our representatives take into consideration the needs of the community and support the CHIP program.”
The Louisiana Weekly reached out to the entire Louisiana Congressional delegation for comments and their stances on the CHIP reauthorization.
Congressman Cedric Richmond shared the following statement: “The Children’s Health Insurance Program is crucial to so many low-income families who may be just above the Medicaid threshold but cannot afford private insurance. I believe that it is important to continue to invest in our youth whether it is health care, food assistance, education, and so many more valuable programs that if not properly funded would not only be morally reprehensible but end up costing even more money in the future. I will continue to fight for critical programs such as CHIP and many others that invest in our youth.”
U.S. Senators Mary Landrieu and David Vitter as well as U.S. Representatives Steve Scalise, Charles Boustany, John Fleming, Vance McAllister and Bill Cassidy had not responded by our print deadline.
A representative from within the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service’s press office confirmed that CHIP is set to expire in October 2015 but could not provide an answer “at this time” with regard to what would become of the children enrolled in the program should CHIP expire in 2015.
This article originally published in the March 17, 2014 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.