ACA Enrollment Over; CHIP Enrollment Continues

March 31 was a big day for many health care advocates—the last day in 2014 families could sign up for coverage through the health insurance marketplaces under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). However, unlike the marketplaces, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) allow children to enroll in health coverage year round.

Unfortunately, the future of CHIP coverage is uncertain beyond September 2015, when the current program will expire. If Congress fails to renew funding, many children will lose the child-specific protections in CHIP, become subject to the limited open enrollment periods through the marketplaces or lose health insurance coverage altogether.

CHIP represents a national investment in children’s health that pre-dates the ACA, providing benefits, provider networks and cost-sharing protections designed with children’s needs in mind. Since its creation in 1997, CHIP has helped reduce the rate of uninsured children to a historic low.

Securing the future of CHIP ensures millions of children nationwide continue to have stable, cost-effective, pediatric-specific coverage. Children’s advocacy organizations are already working with leaders in Congress and governors to keep what is working for children and renew CHIP before it expires. But it is critical that families and other child health advocates work with us on those efforts. You can begin now by thinking about the ways that the program is important to you.

You can help by sharing your stories and thoughts with your elected officials—by contacting them directly, working your local children’s hospital or sharing stories on Speak Now for Kids. Together, we can make sure that our elected officials understand that CHIP is a successful program that must be continued so children maintain access to this important coverage option that meets their needs every day of the year.

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