Ben Franklin was right when it comes to health coverage for kids. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. New research shows that investments in children produce long-lasting returns by preparing children for success in school and life. Especially in difficult economic times, Illinois must continue to invest in children’s health insurance programs that are proven to improve health and educational outcomes for children, and even increase college attendance, and boost future income. The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is one important and proven investment. Federal CHIP funding of the All Kids program has been successful in providing high-quality, cost- effective health insurance for hundreds of thousands of children—which has helped to bring Illinois’s children’s coverage rate up to more than 95 percent, one of the highest rates in the country. When children’s health needs are met, they are better able to learn in school, and parents have less medical debt and miss fewer days of work. By ensuring our kids have the health care they need, we can create a stronger future for Illinois.
Federal CHIP funding of the All Kids program has been successful in providing high-quality, cost- effective health insurance for hundreds of thousands of children—helping to bring Illinois’s children’s coverage rate up to more than 95 percent, one of the highest rates in the country. Unfortunately, no new CHIP funding will be available after September 2015 without congressional action. Without federal CHIP funding to support the All Kids program, Illinois may lose as much as $454 million in federal funds in 2016 alone, and thousands of Illinois households are unlikely to have an affordable, comprehensive health insurance coverage option for their children. The President recognizes CHIP’s importance and included it in his proposed budget. Now, we need to work to ensure that Congress recognizes CHIP’s importance and success and passes legislation as soon as possible to renew funding for this crucial health safety net for kids.
What is the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)? In Illinois, CHIP is a federal funding stream that strengthens the All Kids program to cover the cost of nearly 175,000 Illinois families eligible at All Kids’ “higher” income levels who otherwise would lack affordable health insurance coverage. CHIP funding makes it possible for Illinois to cover children with family income up to 318% of the federal poverty level (FPL) (about $6,320/month for a family of four); CHIP also provides federal funding for Illinois to provide health insurance coverage to pregnant women and their babies—all of whom live in families with income no greater than 213% of the FPL (about $4,360/month for a family of four). For children in All Kids whose services are funded with CHIP dollars, monthly premiums range from $0-40 per child with a maximum of $80 per month for two or more children, and cost sharing for office visits ranges from $3.90 – $15 per visit. Thanks to CHIP funding, these children receive pediatrician-recommended services that children need to reach important developmental milestones, such as screening, prevention, and medically necessary diagnostic and treatment services and dental, vision, mental health, and hearing services. Any gap in funding will leave kids without critical medicines and treatments they need and also cause them to miss wellness visits that can cause small problems to balloon into lifelong issues. When children’s health needs are met, they are better able to learn in school and parents have less medical debt and miss fewer days of work. By ensuring our kids have the health care they need, we can create a stronger future for Illinois. Continued CHIP funding will give hardworking families the peace of mind of not being one accident or illness away from financial disaster due to their kids’ unpaid medical bills.
CHIP gives Illinois the flexibility to run programs that work best for them. CHIP allows states to experiment with different program designs that work best for their state. CHIP also allows states to earn extra state funding for simplifying their enrollment and renewal processes and for increasing enrollment of uninsured children in their Medicaid program. In the past five years Illinois has received more than $60 million in bonus payments under CHIP—and Illinois is one of only nine states to receive bonus payments for five consecutive years.
CHIP is the most effective way to cover kids at the lowest cost. CHIP is the most effective way to cover kids at the lowest cost. In Illinois, children ages zero to eighteen comprise 57% of the overall Medicaid program enrollment but account for just 26% of the total cost. A recent study of the long-term effects of kids on Medicaid confirmed that giving kids health coverage may boost their future earnings for decades. And the taxes they pay on those higher incomes may just help pay Illinois back for some of its investment.
CHIP delivers coverage through private insurance companies. CHIP is a public–private partnership, and private partners can’t sign contracts when the funding source is in doubt. Pursuant to state statute, Illinois will enroll more than half of its Medicaid consumers—including children—into managed care. These managed care companies rely on CHIP dollars. Renewing CHIP funding for at least another five years gives these private insurance partners and Illinois the ability to better plan their budgets.
CHIP is a proven program with a history of bipartisan support that provides kids with the health care they need to stay healthy and succeed. Governors and state legislatures are planning their state budgets now, and any uncertainty leaves their bottom line in jeopardy. Governors from 39 states—such as our neighbors in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin–have weighed in on the importance of CHIP, with Republicans and Democrats alike calling on Congress to move quickly to renew federal funding for CHIP so they can continue to provide struggling families with vital health coverage for their kids.
Without federal action, we stand to undo nearly 20 years of progress connecting kids to the health coverage they need to develop and thrive. If CHIP funding is not renewed, Illinois may lose as much as $454 million in federal funds in 2016 alone. By renewing this proven, bipartisan program, we can protect and build on our progress for the nation’s children, help Illinois as it plans its budget, and provide Illinois’s kids with the coverage and quality care they need to reach their full potential.