Policy Priorities

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Realizing the Promise of Health Reform for Children

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) takes major steps to ensure that all people in America, including 95 percent of children, have access to health coverage that is easy to get and to keep. Starting on January 1, 2014, millions of Americans became newly eligible for Medicaid coverage, and millions more began to receive subsidies to buy coverage through state insurance marketplaces.  Check in as ACA implementation continues to move forward, and arm yourself with the facts and tools to ensure successful implementation for children and families! 

Learn how the ACA is already working for children and families and what's still to come!  The ACA includes many provisions that directly benefit children and young adults, some of which have already been implemented, and some of which will provide further relief in 2014.  In addition to our fact sheet, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently released state-by-state fact sheets that show who has already been helped by the ACA, and how. 

While the nation looks ahead to the launch of health insurance marketplaces on October 1, millions of uninsured children who are already eligible for coverage through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) can get covered today.  To learn more about eligibility for Medicaid and CHIP in your state, visit http://www.insurekidsnow.gov/.

Resources on Key Implementation Issues for Children and Families

SIGN ME UP!  Learn about Coverage Options for Children and Families and How to Enroll

Are you the parent of an uninsured child who is wondering where you can go to learn more about the new health coverage options that are available for you and your family?  Here are a few of our favorite resources to help you navigate your options:

  • The Department of Health and Human Services has information about enrollment options here and more information about eligibility and enrollment for Medicaid and CHIP at InsureKidsNow.gov
  • Our friends at the American Academy of Pediatrics have launched HealthyChildren.org, which breaks down the coverage options for which your family may be eligible. 
  • Confused about Premium Tax Credits or how your income will be determined when you apply for coverage?  The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities answers all of those questions and more on their Health Reform Beyond the Basics page.

Covering Parents Is Good for Children

For the first time, millions of parents will be eligible for affordable health insurance.  That's good news for children: as more parents become insured through the new marketplace exchanges, the Medicaid expansion, and restrictions on private insurers, their children are more likely to become insured. Children with uninsured parents are three times more likely to be uninsured than children with insured parents.  Parents with insurance are also healthier and spend less on health care costs, making them better equipped to support their children physically and financially.   Furthermore, the ACA requires parents newly eligible for Medicaid to ensure their children have coverage before they themselves can enroll, a feature we hope will result in many of the already eligible, but uninsured children getting signed up for Medicaid or CHIP. Check out this report from our friends at the Georgetown Center for Children and Families to learn more.

The Impact of the ACA on Medicaid and the Uninsured at the Local Level

What effect will the Medicaid expansion have on the uninsured population in your state?  The Kaiser Family Foundation has just released an online, interactive tool that enables you to zoom in on your community and see how the number and composition of uninsured will change if your state expands Medicaid.  If your state has not yet taken steps to expand Medicaid, you can use this to inform your elected representatives about the effect expanding Medicaid would have in your state.

What about Young Adults?

The Affordable Care Act is making health care more affordable and accessible for 19 million uninsured young adults across the country.  Three million previously uninsured young adults have already joined their parents’ health insurance plan as a result of the health care law, and millions of more young adults have access to new coverage options as of January 1, 2014. Our friends at the Young Invincibles are leading the charge with a nationwide campaign designed to inform young adults about the changes and new options to come.  Learn more by exploring their website with frequently asked questions and a mobile app to help consumers learn about their options, find local health care services, and get information on enrollment events to be held this fall.

The Young Invincibles have also partnered with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to launch the Healthy Young America video contest in an effort to inform young people about health insurance coverage and new options under the Affordable Care Act. People can submit entries and vote for their favorite videos at www.healthyyoungamerica.org.

Resources for State Advocates

Together with our partners, we have helped prepare resources for state advocates to ensure that as states move forward with implementation of the ACA, health coverage for children and families is as strong as possible.

Making Health Insurance Exchanges Work for Children

One of the key features of ACA is the creation of health insurance marketplaces (formerly known as exchanges) in every state. These new sources of coverage will provide individuals and families in each state with coverage options that are easy to compare. Learn more about the key design and implementation components of state marketplaces that are needed to ensure they provide strong coverage and protections for children.

Defining Essential Health Benefits: What’s Needed for Children?

As each state opens its marketplace and selects which health insurance plans will be offered to consumers, the state must ensure that each plan covers the 10 required categories of Essential Health Benefits (EHB) as outlined in the ACA and subsequent regulations from the Department of Health and Human Services.  While CDF was disappointed that states were given such flexibility to determine their EHBs for children, state advocates can follow the recommendations in this resource to encourage their state to develop EHB standards that meet the unique needs of children.  

Ensuring Adequate Marketplace Provider Networks: What’s Needed for Children

As the health insurance marketplaces get up and running for open enrollment season beginning October 1, child health advocates must also work to ensure that the provider networks for the health plans in the state’s marketplace are robust and offer appropriate coverage for children.  This resource outlines the steps that states, providers, advocates and others can take to ensure pediatric provider networks will meet the needs of all children.

Aligning Eligibility for Children: Moving “Stairstep Kids” to Medicaid

Together with the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, our friends at the Georgetown Center for Children and Families have released a new paper that examines issues for children who will move from CHIP to Medicaid on January 1, 2014 (known as the "stairstep kids").  While many states already cover children in Medicaid up to 138 percent of poverty, the ACA requires all states to cover children up to 138 percent of poverty in Medicaid.  As a result, 21 states will be transitioning some children from CHIP to Medicaid. This report examines how this transition is already underway in some states; how it will affect children, families, and the states; and offers recommendations for the states to ensure no child falls through the cracks.