CHIP Financing at Risk Despite Program’s Success

The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) was enacted in 1997 to provide high quality, affordable health coverage to low-income children and pregnant women. The program has contributed to reducing the number of uninsured children across the country and in Colorado. Today, more than 55,000 children and pregnant women rely on the Child Health Plan Plus, Colorado’s CHIP program, for their health coverage.

Unfortunately, under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), CHIP is only funded through September 30, 2015, and if Congress fails to act soon to extend funding, 12.7 million children will be at risk of losing their CHIP coverage. This would be detrimental since health insurance is crucial to the well-being of children, enabling them to get the preventive services they need to grow up healthy and get the care they need when they are sick or injured.

Continuing CHIP, even after the ACA has been implemented and new coverage options are available, is crucial. A new report prepared by the Wakely Consulting Group for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation compares benefits and cost sharing in CHIP to qualified health plans (QHPs) offered through the ACA’s new marketplaces. According to the analysis, out-of-pocket costs for consumers with QHPs are significantly higher than CHIP’s out-of-pocket costs. In addition, CHIP enrollees tend to have more appropriate coverage and benefits.



CHIP is a tested and reliable model that is proven to provide affordable, appropriate health care services for children and pregnant women. CHIP continues to be an important part of the health care coverage continuum for families, even with new coverage options available under health care reform.

Thankfully, efforts to extend CHIP funding are underway. Last week, a bipartisan, bicameral letter from the chairmen and ranking members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and Senate Finance Committee was sent to all 50 governors seeking insight on CHIP since it is a jointly financed program between the federal government and states. In addition, Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) introduced the CHIP Extension Act of 2014 on June 11, 2014, and Congressman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA) introduced legislation on July 31, 2014. Both bills extend CHIP funding for four years and make permanent administrative improvements to CHIP that have been shown to improve the program’s quality and efficiency.

Even with these efforts at the federal level, there is still a lot of work to be done, especially at the state level. The All Kids Covered (AKC) initiative is leading efforts in Colorado to ensure funding for CHIP is extended to 2019 to align with the program authorization date. AKC is developing messaging and communications materials, and will be leading a story collecting effort. If your organization supports extending funding for CHIP and would like to sign-on to support advocacy efforts to extend federal financing for CHIP, please let Kristen Pieper, CKF Project Manager, know.

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