Congress Must Act for Kids: Pass a Clean CHIP Renewal

As you may have noticed, there isn’t much being accomplished in Washington these days. And sometimes, that’s a good thing. But right now, many children with cancer and other serious health problems are depending on Congress to act quickly to avoid putting their healthcare at risk.

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On October 1, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) will expire and - if not renewed - millions of vulnerable children would face a loss of critical health insurance coverage. While most states could manage to keep CHIP running briefly past the October 1 expiration of federal funding, advocates have noted there will be disruptions to the program before states exhaust that funding. 

In the childhood cancer community, we’re asking Congress to pass a clean, five-year CHIP renewal without any extraneous, complicating attachments. 

See also: Children's Cause sends CHIP letter to Senate HELP and House E&C Committee chairmen: Read Letter → 

CHIP was enacted in 1997 to help states reduce the numbers of uninsured children.  It focuses on low-income kids in working families who don’t have access to job-based coverage but earn too much to qualify for Medicaid.  Some 36 million children in this country are covered by Medicaid and/or CHIP.  Approximately one third of children with cancer depend on these programs for their treatment.  Since the program started, the uninsured rate for children age 18 and under has fallen by 67.9%, from 14.9% to 4.8%. In 2014, there were 4.4 million uninsured children, down from 10.7 million in 1997.

CHIP is structured as a federal-state partnership designed to give governors flexibility in structuring their CHIP programs. Unlike Medicaid, CHIP was established as a 10-year block grant to states rather than as an individual entitlement program -- which means: it must be renewed.

Over its twenty-year life, CHIP has been a winner for states and children alike. The program has a unique structure that encourages states to reduce the number of uninsured kids and improve health outcomes. It ensures that children have access to pediatric- specific provider networks and includes important financial protections for families that cap out-of-pocket costs for premiums and cost-sharing at 5% of total income.

If Congress doesn’t renew CHIP by October 1, most states would run out of money by early 2018, jeopardizing the care of millions of children. The children who lose CHIP will face much higher costs in private insurance – if they have or can get it – or have no other coverage option to rely on. Families facing a childhood cancer diagnosis will face significantly higher out-of-pocket costs.

The failure of Congress to act would be an enormous and needless step backwards for children. The Children’s Cause has joined with dozens of other pediatric organizations to encourage a clean, five-year program that will ensure coverage continues for our most vulnerable kids. You can help right here by sending your legislator a message - below - urging them to pass a new CHIP bill in September: