After reading this OP-ED From Christine Robere of The United Way of The Lakeshore, The Muskegon Channel asked if we could publish this on her behalf. This is new for us. We're not overly political on purpose, but...our kids and our kids futures are so very important and so vital our world. We don't think that anything should stand in the way of protecting kids....no political agenda from either side should come first and Christine explains the impact very well here. Thank you to Christine for allowing us to share her thoughts.
The Clock Ran Out on CHIP:
116,000 kids in Michigan at risk of losing essential healthcare unless Congress Acts
By Christine J. Robere, President & CEO
United Way of the Lakeshore
“Your child is on track.” As a parent, there’s nothing like the relief of hearing your pediatrician share that good news at the annual check-up. And to know, that if anything happened, from strep throat to a broken arm on the playground, your child would have quality care. That’s why we’re celebrating that 116,000 Michigan children have affordable access to health insurance, thanks to the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and calling on Congress to reauthorize this successful program before funding finally runs out in March (the program was authorized through September 31, 2018, but programs that have money can spend it through March). Congressional reauthorization is required to continue CHIP for another five years.
CHIP was enacted with broad bipartisan support in 1997 to provide funding to states to reduce the numbers of uninsured children in the United States. CHIP helps low-income children from working families who do not have access to employer-based coverage, but earn too much to qualify for Medicaid. Before its enactment, over 23% of low income children were uninsured. Today only 5% of children remain uninsured, nationally.
CHIP provides healthcare coverage that is necessary for a child’s early development. For the first three years of a child’s life and beyond, access to quality, pediatric-centered healthcare is critical for their brain development and social, emotional well-being. Health plans offered through CHIP are specifically designed for children, with a long track record of recognizing their unique developmental needs, providing regular wellness visits, developmental screenings and immunizations. Decades of data tells us that access to early quality healthcare has predictive short and long term educational outcomes for a child’s success in school.
CHIP also supports the financial stability of working families. In Michigan, 116,000 children in working families are provided CHIP coverage because these families make too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to be able to purchase coverage on the private marketplace. CHIP is often more affordable for working families in both premiums and out-of-pocket costs than most marketplace or employer-sponsored plans. It is also important to recognize that the success of CHIP rests on the shoulders on a robustly funded Medicaid program. While nationally there are 9 million children who receive healthcare through CHIP, there are an additional 50 million children who receive coverage from Medicaid. Together, more than 40% of US children depend on Medicaid and CHIP for their healthcare coverage.
Without action from Congress, funding for this critical program will run out completely by March putting millions of children at risk of losing healthcare coverage. There is no such thing as “safely delaying” action on CHIP; the consequences have already started. CHIP directors are already preparing cancelation letters and freezing enrollments. Working families are growing anxious that the coverage their children depend on will disappear.
The solution is simple: Extend CHIP funding for five years to ensure that children from hardworking families retain access to affordable and comprehensive health coverage.
CHIP is critical for early childhood well-being and development. With continued coverage, working families will be healthier and more self-sufficient. Let’s support what works!