Policy Priorities

Policy Priorities image of kids

What Does it Mean for Children?

Last year, President Obama signed into law landmark health care reform legislation that will guarantee access to health coverage for 30 million people in America, including more than 95% of all children. With the passage of the The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, Congress and the President took a major step towards ensuring affordable and comprehensive health coverage for all children and families in America.

The legislation:

Expands and strengthens the child health safety net.

  • Provides the greatest expansion of Medicaid coverage for the poor since the program’s enactment in 1965. At least 17 million children, parents and childless adults with incomes below 133 percent of poverty ($29,726 for a family of four) will be eligible for Medicaid in 2014, with its guaranteed comprehensive benefits, including 1.6 million children currently eligible for CHIP. In order for newly eligible parents to enroll in Medicaid, they must first ensure their children are covered. (Effective 2014)
  • Maintains the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) until 2019, when we will know whether the new “health insurance exchanges” are able to provide children with benefits and cost protections better than or comparable to what they have now. CHIP is fully funded through 2015 – doubling the number of eligible children who can be served from 7 to 14 million. (Exchanges will begin operating in 2014)
  • Increases Medicaid payment rates to health care providers to ensure more low-income children will have access to primary care service providers. (In effect 2013 and 2014)

Prevents insurance companies from unjustly denying coverage to children.

  • For children with insurance, insurers are no longer able to refuse to cover treatment of children's pre-existing conditions.
  • Prohibits insurance companies from placing restrictive annual or lifetime caps on coverage and from rescinding coverage when a person becomes sick. All annual limits are banned starting in 2014.

Makes health coverage more affordable for parents and children.

  • For families with incomes below 400 percent of the Federal poverty level (up to $ 89,400 for a family of four) that are not insured through an employer, tax credits will be available to help them purchase meaningful health coverage. (Effective in 2014 when the exchanges are operational)

Makes it easier for children to get health coverage and keep it.

  • Enables eligible children to remain insured, even if their parents change jobs, move or get sick.
  • Establishes a “no wrong door” system in states so the entire family can get screened for and enrolled in coverage in a single stop, regardless of which program they are eligible for. (Effective in 2014 when the exchanges are operational)
  • Parents are to keep their children on their insurance until age 26.

Provides new investments in prevention.

  • All “Bright Futures” services – the standard of pediatric well-child and preventive coverage recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics – are now covered for children with no co-payment in all public and private insurance.
  • Establishes a new home visiting grant program to provide voluntary quality evidence-based home visiting services to young at-risk children and their families to improve maternal and newborn health, promote healthy child development, strengthen parenting skills, enhance school readiness and prevent child maltreatment.

Improves the reach and delivery of services.

  • Increases funding for community health centers to improve access and delivery of care for millions of children and families across the country. 
  • Allocates funding to strengthen School Based Health Centers (SBHCs) that currently provide comprehensive health coverage and other services critical to child and youth development to more than one million children across the country

Includes extra assistance for the most vulnerable children.

  • Requires states to extend Medicaid coverage to young adults up to age 26 who were in foster care at age 18 or older and are otherwise ineligible for Medicaid.
  • Extends and increases adoption tax credit to $13,170 for 2011, and makes it available to all adoptive families, including those with the lowest incomes.