Policy Priorities

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CHIP Turns Seventeen!
10 Things You Need to Know

On August 5, 1997, former President Bill Clinton signed the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) into law. In 2009, President Obama signed the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA). Here are 10 things you need to know about the program:

  1. CHIP is an essential part of the health system for children.
  2. The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provides comprehensive and affordable health coverage to more than 8 million children all across America. 

  3. CHIP has contributed to all-time lows in the number of uninsured children.
  4. Since CHIP was born in 1997, it has helped to cut the number of uninsured children in half. Today, the number of uninsured children—7.2 million— is the lowest on record.

  5. States have flexibility to design their CHIP programs.
  6. States have the flexibility to set CHIP’s income eligibility, benefits, and enrollment procedures within broad federal parameters. In your state, CHIP might have a special name, like the Husky Program (CT), Peach Care (GA), LaCHIP (LA) or Child Health Plus (NY).  In many states, families may not even realize they are enrolled in CHIP.

  7. CHIP provides the benefits children need.
  8. While CHIP benefits differ by state, generally they are more comprehensive than private insurance for children, particularly for pediatric hearing and vision, mental health and habilitative services.   

  9. CHIP is affordable for families.
  10. Health coverage for children in CHIP is more affordable than private insurance. To prevent cost from being a barrier to accessing needed services, many states impose no cost-sharing or premiums in CHIP. In states that do have some cost-sharing, these costs tend to be nominal compared to those imposed in private insurance and often vary by income to ensure affordability. 

  11. CHIP covers millions of children in working families. 
  12. Ninety-two percent of children enrolled in CHIP had at least one parent employed during the last year. Without CHIP, millions of children would be uninsured and others would pay substantially more money for less comprehensive coverage.  

  13. CHIP provides access to child health providers.
  14. CHIP plans are designed specifically to provide access to child-appropriate pediatric providers, facilities and specialists to ensure children receive medically and developmentally appropriate care. 

  15. CHIP has strong bi-partisan roots.
  16. In 1997, Democrats and Republicans, led by Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Ted Kennedy (D-MA) came together to create CHIP. The strong bi-partisan support has continued through the years – both in Congress and in states across the country. 

  17. CHIP funding is running out.
  18. While CHIP is authorized through 2019, its funding will be virtually eliminated by October 2015 unless Congress takes action. If funding is not maintained, 2 million children would lose critical health coverage and millions more would likely receive less comprehensive coverage at significantly higher cost.   

  19. Congress must take action on CHIP now.
  20. Funding for CHIP must be continued until at least 2019 so states can keep children enrolled in child-appropriate health coverage without gaps or loss of coverage entirely. While funding continues until 2015, states are already starting to plan to 2015 and beyond and must make arrangements for the millions of children enrolled in CHIP. Congress must act this year to keep CHIP funded. There must be no uncertainty for children, parents or states about the future of CHIP.