Our entire state benefits when more Maine children have access to quality, affordable health care coverage because healthy children and families lead to strong and vibrant communities. When children and families can see a doctor when they are sick, get regular checkups and access preventive care, they can actively participate in their community and state.
The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is a critical program with a long history of bipartisan support and a track record of success that provides quality, affordable health care coverage to children from low-income households, who don’t meet the eligibility requirements for Medicaid. CHIP ensures these Maine kids can access the health care they need to stay on track to become healthy, successful adults. However, federal funding for CHIP expires on September 30, 2017.
Without reauthorization, Maine will run out of federal CHIP funds by June 2018.
Maine children need Congress to reauthorize CHIP before it expires at the end of the month. If Congress fails to reauthorize CHIP, Maine will run out of federal CHIP funds by June 2018. This will put an additional burden on the already tight state budget and force the state to cover fewer Maine children – only increasing the rate of uninsured children in Maine. While the rate of uninsured children has declined nationally, Maine’s rate of uninsured children has risen over the past few years. We ought to be covering more children not fewer.
THE IMPORTANCE OF FEDERAL FUNDING
While CHIP is a state-administrated program, Maine relies heavily on federal funding to run the program. In fiscal year 2016, Maine spent $33.4 million on CHIP, with $32.4 million coming from federal funds. Without CHIP, thousands of children in Maine would be left without health care coverage. And Maine children living in the most rural counties would be disproportionately affected.
MEDICAID & CHIP COVERAGE
In Maine, about 47 percent of children – over 130,000 – rely on MaineCare, Maine’s Medicaid and CHIP program, for health care coverage. This means that Medicaid and CHIP work together to make sure that half of our kids can get the health care they need to grow and develop. While Medicaid covers children with disabilities, high health care needs or who live in poverty, CHIP is a little different. CHIP is designed to fill the gaps by covering children who are not eligible for Medicaid. For example, some essential industries to the Maine economy (e.g. lobstering, construction) don’t provide health coverage. CHIP ensures that families without employer-sponsored health care and who live just above the Medicaid guidelines can still access health care coverage for their kids.
REDUCING INFANT MORTALITY RATES
In Maine, CHIP also provides critical prenatal care to expectant mothers from low-income households. This ensures expectant mothers can get the health care they need to have a healthy delivery and make sure their children have a strong start to life. When expectant mothers get the health care they need, Maine children have a strong, healthy start to life. This means Maine children are more likely to be developmentally on track to reach their full potential. At a time when Maine’s infant mortality rates are especially high, we should be increasing access to health care not reducing it – reauthorizing CHIP moves Maine in the right direction.
Maine children need Congress to reauthorize CHIP for five more years so they can access the health care they need to be healthy, strong and ready to learn.