Medicaid Matters for Kids Briefing Series Continues with “CHIP 101: Past, Present and Future”

On May 2, the Association, in cooperation with the Children’s Health Care Caucus, hosted its second briefing, “CHIP 101: Past, Present and Future,” in the four-part Medicaid Matters for Kids series.

On May 2, the Association, in cooperation with the Children’s Health Care Caucus, hosted its second briefing, “CHIP 101: Past, Present and Future,” in the four-part Medicaid Matters for Kids series. The briefing provided congressional staff with an overview of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and how it will fit into the future of the health care system. The briefing was also sponsored by the American Academy of Pediatrics, Family Voices, First Focus, Georgetown Center for Children and Families and March of Dimes.

Panelists included:

  • Robert Hall, JD MPAff, Associate Director, Department of Federal Affairs, American Academy of Pediatrics
  • Elisabeth Wright Burak, Senior Program Director, Center for Children and Families, Georgetown University Health Policy Institute
  • Marsha Dendler Raulerson, MD FAAP, Chair, American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Federal Government Affairs
  • Bruce Lesley, President, First Focus

Robert Hall, who served as the moderator, opened the briefing by providing an introduction to the CHIP program. CHIP is a block grant of funds given to states to help cover the cost of insuring the almost 8 million low-income children with families who have income too high to qualify for Medicaid but too low to find affordable coverage. Since the program’s reauthorization in 2009, CHIP has also provided funds for quality measurements which are the only federal investments in pediatric quality care. Each state’s CHIP program has great flexibility in terms of defining the program design, benefits and eligibility, yet each state program helps fill two critical needs: affordable coverage and quality measurement in pediatric care.

The first panelist was Elisabeth Wright Burak. Ms. Wright Burak provided background on the success of CHIP and Medicaid in ensuring health care coverage for children. According to data from the Georgetown Center for Children and Families, the children’s uninsurance rate has declined from 8.6 percent in 2009 to 7.5 percent in 2011, even as the rate of child poverty has increased in recent years. “In the months and years ahead, it will be vital to sustain and build on the success of CHIP and Medicaid in covering children,” she added.

Dr. Marsha Dendler Raulerson, the second panelist, offered her valuable insights as a pediatrician in rural Alabama. Alabama’s CHIP program, ALL KIDS, was the first state program implemented. As of this March, 85,443 children in Alabama were covered by ALL Kids, contributing to an uninsurance rate of less than 5 percent of children across the state. Dr. Dendler Raulerson has also witnessed the impact of the ALL Kids program on the lives of many of the patients she serves, who can now receive regular check-ups, immunizations and dental and vision care with no co-pays.

Bruce Lesley served as the third and final panelist and represented First Focus, a bipartisan children’s advocacy group in Washington. Mr. Lesley emphasized CHIP’s history of strong bipartisan political and public support, although he noted that the public often is unaware of the great success of the program in significantly reducing the number of uninsured kids. “It’s an amazing story that’s happened everywhere across the country,” he said. Mr. Lesley also reiterated the message that CHIP plays an important role in ensuring that specific attention is paid to how children receive care since they have unique health needs. He added, as health care reform continues, it will be important to ensure that kids also make the transition and are able to access quality care.

For more details on the two remaining briefings in the Medicaid Matters for Kids series, please visit

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