Standing Room Only for Association Hosted CHIP Briefing

On Thursday, Feb. 20, the Association and eight allied organizations held an educational lunch briefing on Capitol Hill to a standing-room only crowd of more than 100 attendees, primarily Hill staffers. The briefing, “CHIP = Healthy Kids: Building on State Successes to Address the Health Care Needs of Children,” presented information about the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), including its history and structure, and highlighted state experiences in providing health coverage for millions of low-income children. Among the materials distributed to attendees was an open letter to President Obama and congressional leaders, co-signed by more than 400 organizations from across the country, urging leaders to reauthorize CHIP. The message from the briefing was clear: CHIP needs to be reauthorized.

Without reauthorization, CHIP is set to expire on Sept. 30, 2015, but for reauthorization to be effective, it needs to happen soon so that state governments can plan accordingly. CHIP serves a unique role in the current health care structure, meeting the needs of approximately 8 million low-income children, primarily from working families. CHIP is a better value for the families—and for the state governments which administer the programs—than any other current option.

The panel discussion included the perspective of Chloe Thiboldeaux , an 11-year-old girl fighting Crohn’s disease, who relies on CHIP coverage to meet her medical needs. Chloe’s grandmother was in attendance to help her tell her story, because both of her parents work, and were unable to take time off to attend. The story of the challenges Chloe and her family have faced, and the success she has had—thanks in large part to amazing care made possible through CHIP coverage—served as a personal example of how states use CHIP to meet the needs of children. Other panelists included Cathy Caldwell, director of AllKids, Alabama’s CHIP program; and Charles Barone II, M.D., chair of the department of pediatrics at Henry Ford Medical Group. Libby Mullin, principal of Mullin Strategies, moderated the discussion.

Enacted with broad bipartisan support as part of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) was devised to address a critical gap in health coverage for low-income children from working families—those whose parents had incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid and who found private health insurance unaffordable. CHIP provides health coverage to more than 8 million children and, together with Medicaid, has helped to reduce the number of uninsured children by almost half since its enactment.

You can learn more about how CHIP works in your state by visiting the National Academy for State Health Policy website and clicking on your state. Want to support CHIP? In the coming months, we’ll have opportunities for you to show your support directly to Congress. For now, one way you can show your support is to join Speak Now for Kids and share your story of how CHIP has helped you or someone you know. You can also help spread the word about this important program for kids by tweeting and posting your stories on Facebook using the hashtag #celebrateCHIP.

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