90,000 Kids and Pregnant Women Lose Out

Information from the Colorado Children’s Campaign:

 

If Congress fails to act by Sept. 30, Colorado could lose federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), or Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+). This essential service supports about 90,000 kids and pregnant women in Colorado. 1] If financing is not extended, coverage losses will start in early 2018.

For decades, CHIP has ensured that children in thousands of working families have access to quality affordable health care. The program serves families that make too much to qualify for Medicaid and too little to afford health care in the private market. With CHIP, these families are able to purchase health insurance for their children with one low annual fee and co-pays that are based on a sliding scale.

We are urging Congress to extend funding for the CHIP program for five years at current funding levels. Extending funding for five years will provide a stable source of coverage for working families during a time of uncertainty about the future of health coverage options. A five-year extension will also give policy makers time to develop policies that ensure continued quality, affordable health coverage for kids and pregnant women and allow for greater budget certainty for states. 

Simply switching to private insurance isn’t a solution for CHIP families. For example, the maximum annual enrollment fee for a family on CHIP is $75 or about $6.25 per month. The cheapest catastrophic health plan in Denver for a child is $103 monthly, which is a 1,500 percent increase. That increase climbs to at least $144 a month, or a 2,200 percent jump, if you live in rural Chaffee County.

Colorado has worked to ensure that the provider network for the program is pediatric focused, which puts kids’ health first and provides lower cost-sharing options than in private plans. The program includes important benefits, including dental, that aren’t often found in other plans. This attention to a pediatric-focused benefits package is particularly important to kids with chronic issues who often require specialty care. In addition, we know that access to quality, affordable health insurance ensures a healthier start, which impacts every facet of a child’s life from attendance and performance in school through their entry into adulthood.

CHIP has been an integral part of Colorado’s efforts to get kids covered, as well as national coverage gains, since its inception. A loss of the program would wipe out much of this progress Colorado and other states have achieved. CHIP, partnered with Medicaid, has given Colorado the two-pronged approach it needed to help increase coverage for kids, driving the percent of uninsured Colorado kids to an all-time low of only 2.5 percent.

Colorado’s budget for 2017-18 is set and includes federal CHIP funding at current rates. Abruptly stopping the program does not allow state lawmakers to appropriately plan for dramatic changes to anticipated federal revenue streams, does not give our state government time to implement thoughtful transitions, and does not give families the time they need to plan ahead. Extending funding for CHIP through 2022 will provide budget predictability as Colorado plans for the next fiscal year and beyond.

Colorado stands to lose $254 million annually in federal funding if the program ends. That’s a hole in the state budget that Colorado won’t be able to close due to constitutionally imposed tax and spending limitations. CHIP funding in Colorado provides support for both kids and pregnant women in Colorado’s CHP+ program as well as certain kids enrolled in Medicaid.

[1] Roughly 90,000 kids and pregnant women had coverage in Colorado’s CHIP program (CHP+) sometime during the 2015-2016 fiscal year. This number is slightly higher than HCPF’s reported monthly caseload numbers, which use point-in-time estimates. Since some clients lose eligibility and others gain eligibility throughout the year, the number here is higher than the number of children being served during any one month during the year.