As mothers, we know that children need ongoing access to health insurance, ensuring that children can readily gain needed care when faced with injury or illness. Whether it’s allergy season, soccer season or flu season, children need uninterrupted access to care. Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provide continuous access to coverage and care year round for eligible children and families. There is no end date to staying healthy.
Medicaid and CHIP are important pillars of our health care system. These programs keep families healthy by providing important health care insurance coverage and access to needed providers. In particular, CHIP plays an important role in extending health coverage to low–to-moderate-income families while raising awareness about all coverage options for families. Enrollment for Medicaid and/or CHIP is open all year long.
Since 1997, CHIP has added an important layer of access to coverage for children and, in most states, pregnant women. Today, almost 8 million children get their health coverage through CHIP.
When CHIP was reauthorized (CHIPRA) in 2009, Congress built on its successes by adding new opportunities to improve state performance, enhance pediatric quality and increase outreach and enrollment of children and/or pregnant women. These investments continue to pay off - and continue to be vital to keeping children insured and healthy. The uninsurance rate among children is 7.2 percent nationwide—the lowest it has been since we started collecting data—in part thanks to the outreach made possible by the CHIP reauthorization.
How did CHIP work with Medicaid to help reduce the uninsured rate of children?
CHIPRA made investments in outreach and enrollment combined with affordable coverage options for families that provide a robust set of benefits that meet the specific needs of children. CHIPRA created the Connecting Kids to Coverage program, which provides grants and support for organizations engaged in outreach and enrollment work.
CHIPRA also helped states keep their focus on program improvement by offering performance bonuses. CHIPRA performance bonuses incentivize states to enroll as many eligible children as possible and reward these efforts with additional funding.
Last but not least, CHIPRA helped move the needle on pediatric quality by investing in demonstration projects and Centers of Excellence that develop child-specific quality metrics that will improve care and inform health system innovation. Many are unaware that pediatric quality research has lagged quality improvement efforts for adults, and CHIPRA begins to resolve this disparity through the creation of Centers of Excellence and demonstration grants. Through the demonstration grants, 18 states are engaged in testing out pediatric quality measures, incorporating health information technology and electronic health records into pediatric care, and developing more patient-centered and coordinated methods of providing care.
We continue to need Medicaid and CHIP to cover children in this country. Together, they keep children healthy, giving them the opportunity to grow into healthy, productive adults. As we celebrate Mother’s during the month of May, mothers everywhere celebrate Medicaid and CHIP because like Moms, these important programs keep the welcome mat out and the door open for kids.