Friday, January 16, 2015

Children's Health Insurance - Beth DeHoff

Information about Children’s Health Insurance Program, January 16, 2015

The CHIP program was enacted in 1997 with strong bipartisan support. It helps working families who earn too much to qualify their children for Medicaid, but too little to afford private insurance plans. CHIP provides coverage and access to high-quality health care services, including essential preventive care that affordably keeps our children healthy. Because of CHIP, the number of low-income, uninsured children in America dropped by an astounding 50 percent, from 25% in 1997 to 13% in 2012, and children are now benefitting from improved health outcomes and access to care.

Children covered by CHIP can receive regular primary care and dental care – two hallmarks of children’s health. Nationally, since CHIP began, the number of uninsured American children has reached the lowest levels in history. CHIP’s flexibility for state design has allowed states to tackle the costs of uncompensated care while insuring more children in ways that work for each state’s unique needs. CHIP reaches children in the core of our nation’s urban centers and in the far reaches of rural America. It is a judicious, cost-effective way to keep children healthy and reduce the costs associated with uncompensated care and the tragedy of preventable childhood illness, disability and death.

Congress has authorized the program through 2019, but federal funding for CHIP is set to expire on Oct. 1, 2015. As each state adjusts to a variety of health system changes, it’s essential that Congress secure CHIP’s future so that children who depend on it remain insured. Without Congressional action, more than 7.8 million children across the country will lose their coverage by 2016, putting their families at risk for a steep increase in insurance costs, a reduction in benefits, and a real risk of losing coverage altogether. Without CHIP, the health of our nation’s children is in jeopardy.

The United Methodist Church has historically been concerned about children’s health insurance. Why? Because Jesus commanded us to care for the least of these, to take care of the sick and vulnerable, and that by doing so we honor Him (Matthew 25:35-45). Proverbs 31:9 urges us to open our mouths and defend the rights of the poor and needy. Please consider asking your members of Congress to do the same with a vote to extend CHIP’s funding. Thank you, and may God bless you in your work for children and families.


Beth DeHoff is the advocacy chair for Indiana's UMC Disability Ministries team, a former member of the Disability Ministries Committee, and the parent of a child with multiple disabilities. She compiled this information for a letter to urge her U.S. senators and representative to extend funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program. She gives permission for anyone who would like to take similar action to use this in whole or in part.

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