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health as it happens

Groups urge Congress to make CHIP permanent - American Dental Association

July 30, 2021

By Jennifer Garvin

Washington — The ADA and more than 500 organizations representing all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, are urging Congress to support legislation to make the Children’s Health Insurance Program permanent.

In a July 22 letter sent to leaders in the House and Senate, the groups, led by the First Focus Campaign for Children, asked the lawmakers to support the Comprehensive Access to Robust Insurance Now Guaranteed for Kids Act and the Children’s Health Insurance Program Permanency Act.

“Both bills would protect the health security and well-being of the 10 million children and pregnant women currently enrolled in CHIP while taking the long overdue and necessary step of finally making CHIP permanent, like every other public health insurance program, including Medicare and Medicaid,” they wrote. “Enacting legislation to make CHIP permanent ensures that the children and pregnant women that receive health insurance through the popular and successful Children’s Health Insurance Program will never again worry about their coverage expiring mid-year or mid-treatment.”

The groups said “for almost 25 years, CHIP has been an essential source of children’s coverage, ensuring access to high-quality, affordable, pediatric-appropriate health care for children in working families whose parents earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but too little to purchase private health insurance on their own.”

They also said that CHIP has helped reduce the number of uninsured children by more than 68%, from an uninsured rate of nearly 15% in 1997 to less than 5% in 2016. It has also led to improved health outcomes and access to care for children and pregnant women, they said, particularly for children of color. They noted that in 2019 more than half of American Indian/Alaska Native, Black, multi-racial, and Hispanic children relied on Medicaid and CHIP as their source of health coverage.

“To never again wonder about CHIP’s future would allow lawmakers, federal and state health departments, advocates, pediatricians, and other providers to be entirely focused and attentive to the emergencies at hand – ending the COVID-19 pandemic, addressing our nation’s shameful maternal and infant mortality crises, and eliminating health disparities and promoting health equity,” the letter concluded. “Swift passage of legislation to make CHIP permanent will ensure that never again will we divert any attention away from improving child and maternal health outcomes to prepare for contingency planning for the possible temporary expiration or end of CHIP.”

For more information on the ADA’s advocacy efforts, visit ADA.org/Advocacy.