This week, the Senate is expected to consider the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 (CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2009) (S.275), which will renew and expand the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). CHIP provides health insurance coverage to children in low-income families who do not qualify for Medicaid and would otherwise be uninsured. The program was created 12 years ago and by every measure is a cost effective and successful way to meet the basic health care needs of our nation’s children. At a time when our nation’s families are being stretched thin by fewer resources and greater costs, ensuring that children still have adequate access to quality health care is vitally important.
The CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2009 is about the nearly 10 million children who may not have health care coverage if CHIP is not reauthorized. S.275 will enable parents to take their children to the doctor for sick care, preventive care, and immunizations. This legislation will ensure that roughly 10 million children will receive the quality health care coverage vital to keeping kids healthy. If the legislation is not passed, more than 6.7 million children, currently enrolled in CHIP, will lose their health insurance coverage. Moreover, more than 4 million additional children, who are not currently insured, will miss the opportunity to receive quality health care. The recent and continuing economic crisis demands action. As more parents lose their jobs, more low-income children will be at risk of losing health care coverage. Our nation’s children must continue to receive adequate and timely care.
The CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2009 is about keeping kids healthy enough to be productive in school and throughout their lives. Adequate and timely coverage will allow doctors to treat or prevent conditions that can affect a child’s ability to lead a healthy and productive life. If harmful conditions are left undiagnosed and untreated, children may be prevented from achieving their full potential. Children who are sick and left untreated may also harm other children attending the same school, playing on the same sports field, or riding the bus together. Studies have found an association between enrollment in CHIP and improved school performance, including increased school attendance, greater ability to pay attention in class, and increased ability to participate in school and normal childhood activities. A report published in May 2007 by the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured discusses the benefits to children of having CHIP coverage: Children covered by CHIP and Medicaid have far better access to preventive and primary health care than uninsured children; they are much more likely than uninsured children to have a usual source of care, thereby increasing the quality and continuity of care. Enrollment in public coverage is associated with improvements in quality of care, and improved health outcomes.
The CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2009 is about meeting our common goal of a healthy America. The American public widely supports the renewal and extension of CHIP; the public recognizes that providing health care to children is common sense. Lake Research Partners conducted a poll in November 2008 which found overwhelming public support for CHIP reauthorization. Eighty-two percent of those polled indicated support for reauthorizing CHIP. There was broad support across party lines with over 70 percent of Independents and Republicans joining over 90 percent of Democrats in support of the reauthorization of CHIP. The public understands that all children deserve the chance to lead healthy and productive lives.