More than 174,000 Illinois children could lose their current health coverage if Congress does not act now to extend funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
In Illinois, CHIP federal dollars provide significant support to the All Kids program, which gives low-income children access to comprehensive health coverage, including screening, prevention, medically necessary diagnostic and treatment services, and vision, mental health, and hearing services. Federal CHIP dollars also help sustain All Kids’ oral health safety net, covering services such as teeth cleanings, check-ups, x-rays, and fluoride treatments.
CHIP has also helped Illinois emerge as a national leader of children’s health coverage. 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. Federal CHIP funding has helped bring Illinois’s children’s coverage rate up to more than 95 percent, one of the highest rates in the country.
Without continued CHIP funding, Illinois would lose access to significant federal dollars—as much as $454 million in 2016 alone—at a time when our state has never been more budget-strapped. And failing to meet children’s health needs today prevents Illinois from reaping the long-term social and economic benefits associated with children’s health coverage, including increased educational attainment and higher future earning potential.
Extending CHIP funding through 2019 would accomplish dual goals. It would limit disruptions in medical and oral health care for children currently enrolled in the CHIP-funded Illinois All Kids program. It would also provide our state with the stability it needs to effectively plan a budget. Congress needs to pass a four-year extension of CHIP funding that maintains the current elements of the program already in place.