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CHIP at Risk: Why Connecticut Should Pay Attention
This article was written by Eva Marie Stahl, Ph.D., Project Director, New England Alliance for Children’s Health at Community Catalyst.
Unless Congress acts, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) will run out of funds by the end of 2015. CHIP covers about 8 million children nationwide and contributes significantly to our success reaching children and keeping them covered at higher rates than adults.
CHIP is unique in its aims: it is an affordable child health coverage option for families earning too much to qualify for Medicaid but for whom private insurance is unaffordable, and it provides benefits and networks that are tailored specifically to the developmental and health needs of children.
In Connecticut, CHIP is called HUSKY B and functions as a partner program of Medicaid (HUSKY A). Together, HUSKY A and HUSKY B cover 94.7% percentage of eligible children. That translates to about 12,000 children in HUSKY B. If CHIP ended, children enrolled in HUSKY B would move into alternate coverage (Marketplace or employer-sponsored plans) or uninsurance, which present challenges for families. As CHIP is debated on the federal level, there are important implications for Connecticut.
Medicaid, CHIP and the ACA each play a critical role in connecting low-income families to the health system. Even in Connecticut, there is mounting evidence that Marketplaces are not yet ready for an influx of child consumers. While problems are resolved for the adult population and we learn how newly designed private plans serve consumers, CHIP continues to provide children with robust coverage. There is much at risk if CHIP were to end.
Medicaid and CHIP work together to move us toward health equity. According to a recent report, Medicaid and CHIP cover more than half of Hispanic and Black children, groups that face some of the steepest health inequities. Immigrant children also face significant hurdles to health care, but thanks to a federal option, HUSKY B allows some legally residing immigrant children to access coverage before the five-year waiting period that is required of adults.
Children’s coverage rates in Connecticut remain high thanks to programs like CHIP. It is important that all stakeholders understand the implications of ending this successful program over the next year as we all work to move forward on children’s health.
(Please read the complete article linked below)
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