The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) supports a five-year re-authorization of funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) without offsetting cuts (pay-fors) to other programs that benefit children. CHIP is a bipartisan success story that should be celebrated. The program was created in 1997 and has been championed by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle since its beginning. Together with Medicaid, CHIP has helped to reduce the number of uninsured children by a remarkable 68 percent, with more than 95 percent of all children in America currently being enrolled in some form of insurance coverage. CHIP currently provides high-quality, cost-effective coverage for more than 8 million low-income American children and 370,000 pregnant women, and it must be continued.
Regrettably, Congress failed to act before the current funding for CHIP expired in September. This means that states will need to send disenrollment notices to struggling families and figure out ways to stretch their remaining federal dollars as long as possible. Some may be able to keep kids covered a few months, while others only have a few weeks.
Numerous studies have shown that CHIP works. In Oregon, parents of CHIP enrollees were more likely to report their child was in good or stable health after being enrolled in the program for a year. In New York, children with special health care needs that were enrolled in CHIP experienced substantial improvements in access to care: unmet needs for prescription medications declined from 36 percent to 9 percent among the previously uninsured; and unmet needs for specialty care declined 48 percent to 10 percent for those previously uninsured and 32 percent to 2 percent for those with mental/behavioral conditions.
Children enrolled in CHIP experience benefits that extend beyond health. In California, children enrolled in CHIP demonstrated “significant, sustained gains” in their ability to pay attention in class and keep up in school activities. Children enrolled in the Kansas CHIP program for more than a year missed fewer days of school because of injury or illness.
Families who rely on CHIP already face uncertainty and challenges, whether managing a complicated health condition for their child or determining how to afford day-to-day living expenses. The last thing these families need is added uncertainty about the future of their children’s medical and dental coverage or whether they will have continued access to necessary prenatal care services.
What can you do to help get CHIP over the finish line? Reach out to your governors and state legislators and ask them to contact your congressional delegation about CHIP. Call your member offices today and ask them about CHIP. Tell them you want to see a bipartisan agreement and you want it passed soon. Motivate members who aren’t on the committees of jurisdiction to stand up for CHIP and kids.
Remember, CHIP is a very popular, bipartisan, long-standing program that has done the work it needed to do for over 20 years. Kids are covered now at a higher rate than ever before. We can’t go back.
Use our tool below to tell your senator to support a five-year extension of CHIP. Our tool allows you to send an email, post your message on Facebook or Twitter and/or call your senator. To contact your senator, follow the steps below: