What is CHIP? 7 things to know about the Children’s Health Insurance Program


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Amid efforts to unsuccessfully repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act in the fall, lawmakers let the Children’s Health Insurance Program (or CHIP) to expire on Sept. 30.

And now, doctors and patients are worried that money for the program, which provides 9 million kids across the country with low-cost health insurance, will run out.

In fact, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 16 states expect to run out of CHIP reserve funds by the end of January, and three-quarters of the states expect to run out by March.

Here are 7 things to know about CHIP:

What is CHIP?

According to HealthCare.gov, CHIP is a no-cost or low-cost health insurance program that provides coverage to children in families that earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but who can’t afford private coverage.

The program is funded by both states and the federal government, but it is state-administered, meaning each state sets their own guidelines on eligibility and services.

In Georgia, the CHIP program is PeachCare for Kids.

CHIP’s history

In 1997, Congress passed Title XXI of the Social Security Act, which enabled states to create programs for the growing number of uninsured children in the country.

The program was created during the Clinton administration by the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. At the time, 10 million children were without health insurance and many of those children were part of working families with incomes slightly above states’ Medicaid eligibility levels, according to the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission.

The Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA) reauthorized CHIP in April 2009.

The next year, the Affordable Care Act contained provisions to strengthen the program and later extended CHIP funding until September 30, 2015. It also required states to maintain eligibility standards through 2019.

By 2015, 18 years after its enactment, 3.3 million children in the U.S. were without health insurance.

In October 2017, however, Congress missed a deadline to reauthorize CHIP, which expired on Sept. 30.

“Lawmakers and staffers in Congress say CHIP funding will likely be included in an end-of-year spending bill,” NPR reported Tuesday. “But as of now, there is no CHIP funding bill scheduled for consideration.”

Who is eligible for CHIP?

Eligibility varies by state, but in most states, children up to age 19 with a family income up to $49,200 per year (for a family of four) may qualify for Medicaid or CHIP, according to insurekidsnow.gov.

But even if your family income is higher, children may still qualify.

Some states (Colorado, Missouri, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Virginia) also provide coverage to pregnant women through CHIP.

Coverage is for U.S. citizens and certain lawfully present immigrants.

What does CHIP cover?

State benefits may vary, but all states provide comprehensive coverage for routine check-ups, immunizations, doctor visits, prescriptions, dental/vision care, inpatient /outpatient hospital care, laboratory/X-ray services and emergency services.

How much does CHIP cost?

The cost depends on family income. Many families may get free health insurance coverage for their kids and others may have to pay a modest enrollment fee or premiums, as well as copayments for specific services.

But according to healthcare.gov, you won’t have to pay more than 5 percent of your family’s income for the year.

How do you apply for CHIP?

There are three ways to apply. You can either call 1-800-318-2596 (1-855-889-4325 for TTY), fill out an application through the health insurance marketplace or apply directly with your state’s CHIP agency.

How many children get health insurance from CHIP?

Nine million kids get health insurance under CHIP.

Children’s hospitals — and their patients — caught in the crosshairs with planned federal cuts


Republican plans targeting federal funding for health coverage have drawn ire from Americans in all corners of the country, but some of the loudest voices are coming from parents. They have cornered members of Congress at town halls to ask how the slashed budgets will affect some of society’s most vulnerable.

Suggested cuts to Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Plans (CHIP) would throw millions of Americans off insurance and leave hospitals that are already teetering financially facing more uncompensated care. Children’s hospitals, safety net hospitals and rural hospitals will be most affected, and disabled children will face devastating cuts in coverage.

The funding decreases have been proposed in bills making their way through Congress and separately by President Donald Trump. They would shift the cost burden further onto states, many of which have seen success in expanding Medicaid, which is also on the chopping block.

“Children, the elderly, the disabled, and others from our most vulnerable populations would all be affected by these deep budget cuts,” Joanna Hiatt Kim, vice president of policy at the American Hospital Association, told Healthcare Dive. “For hospitals, this could mean more uncompensated care as millions continue to seek needed healthcare without any coverage. For the patient, this could mean delayed care or foregoing care altogether.”

Impact on children’s healthcare

More cuts to Medicaid and CHIP would reverse the trend of fewer uninsured Americans, including children.

Congress created CHIP 20 years ago when 15% of children were uninsured. CHIP, the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion provided more insurance offerings and now only about 5% of children are uninsured. CHIP, which is a federal/state partnership, includes free well-child visits in many states and also provides prescription coverage, inpatient and outpatient care and emergency services.

While suggesting a two-year CHIP extension in his budget plan, Trump proposed a 20% CHIP cut over the next two years. His budget also seeks a $610 billion cut from Medicaid over 10 years, despite early promises to leave the program alone.

Studies have shown that CHIP helps reduce hospitalizations and child mortality, and improves quality of care. The program has bipartisan support. However, HHS Secretary Tom Price voted twice against expansion when he was a congressman.

CHIP is up for reauthorization by Sept. 30 and governors recently spoke out in favor of expanding it. In his budget proposal, Trump proposes a two-year extension of CHIP, but also suggests program cuts, including the matching rate for states.

Jim Kaufman, vice president of public policy at Children’s Hospital Association (CHA), told Healthcare Dive that CHIP helps children’s hospitals.

“CHIP is good for kids, and that makes it good for children’s hospitals and children’s providers.”

Jim Kaufman

Vice President of Public Policy, Children’s Hospital Association

Edwin Park, vice president for health policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, told Healthcare Dive that the cuts would shift costs to states and reduce benefits. He said Trump’s budget would eliminate a 23-percentage-point increase in each state’s federal CHIP matching rate, which is in effect until 2019. That would mean $3.5 billion cut from the program.

The budget would also cut CHIP funding for children with families that have incomes above 250% of the federal poverty line, which would affect 28 states and Washington, D.C. that provide CHIP coverage to children above the income threshold, according to Park.

This will mean states will need to pick up more of the CHIP program costs if they want to maintain the current coverage level. Park said he believes Congress will reauthorize the program, but questions remain about CHIP’s funding and benefits.


Halting 340B funding would force 73% of hospitals to cut staff, study finds




The 340B Drug Pricing Program allows certain hospitals and other health care providers (“covered entities”) to obtain discounted prices on “covered outpatient drugs” (prescription drugs and biologics other than vaccines) from drug manufacturers. Manufacturers must offer 340B discounts to covered entities to have their drugs covered under Medicaid. The discounts are substantial. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), which manages the program, estimates that covered entities saved $3.8 billion on outpatient drugs through the program in fiscal year 2013. The 340B program has grown substantially during the past decade. Covered entities and their affiliated sites spent over $7 billion to purchase 340B drugs in 2013, three times the amount spent in 2005. The number of hospital organizations (a single organization includes a hospital and all of its eligible affiliated sites) participating in 340B grew from 583 in 2005 to 1,365 in 2010 and to 2,140 in 2014. The increase from 2010 to 2014 was driven by growth in the number of CAHs and other types of hospitals that became eligible for 340B in 2010 through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA). In 2014, about 45 percent of all Medicare acute care hospitals—including CAHs—participated in the 340B program.