This blog post is an excerpt of a letter from MCA to U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee regarding urgent need to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Learn more about Maine’s case to reauthorize CHIP here.
Urgent action is necessary to provide certainty for families and state budgets.
CHIP is critical to the health of nearly 9 million children—and together with Medicaid—has helped us reach a historic 95.5% insured rate for children nationally. In Maine, CHIP covers more than 23,000 children and has contributed to an insured rate of 94%.
As you know, federal funding for CHIP expired on September 30. In July, the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) estimated that four states including the District of Columbia would run out of funds by December. However, a recent Kaiser Family Foundation study estimated that at least ten states would run out by the end of this year. Minnesota’s Department of Human Services released its own analysis showing that it will run out of funds in September rather than later in the year as noted in earlier reports.
In Maine, we expect to exhaust CHIP funds by June. Without Congress’s swift action, states face great uncertainty and would need to begin winding down the program leaving children without access to needed health care. While the rate of uninsured children has declined nationally, the rate of uninsured Maine children has risen over the past few years. We ought to be covering more children, not fewer.
Medicaid and CHIP work together Maine children healthy.
CHIP is vital to the health of Maine’s children because it gives them access to the health services they need and deserve. Children are not little adults and have their own unique set of health care needs. CHIP ensures those needs are met by providing a benefit package that is age appropriate and delivered by a network of pediatric providers. These benefits include access to preventive care. Ensuring that children have access to preventive care is good practice, which makes sure that we get children on a lifelong pathway of good health. Research shows that investing in children now is an investment in our future. Healthy children are ready to learn and succeed, growing into productive community members. CHIP is an important tool in that all children have an equitable opportunity to become healthy, productive members of our communities. Finally, as Medicaid and CHIP work together to keep kids healthy, they also shield families from medical debt and from having to make choices between rent, food and prescriptions.
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, and are more likely to be developmentally on track to reach their full potential. At a time when Maine’s infant mortality rates are high, we should be increasing access to health care not reducing it – reauthorizing CHIP moves Maine in the right direction.