Thanks to Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) the number of uninsured children in America is at a record low—today 95 percent of children have coverage. Despite these historic gains, Medicaid, CHIP and the ACA continue to face serious attacks in the legislative and regulatory arenas and through the waiver process. We continue to fight to protect and strengthen these critical sources of health coverage for children to ensure children continue to move forward, not backward.
Medicaid is the largest health insurer for our nation’s children, providing affordable, comprehensive health coverage to almost 37 million low-income children today. Forty-three percent of all Medicaid enrollees are children and Medicaid covers almost half of all births in the United States and more than 40 percent of children with special health care needs. Medicaid also serves millions of low-income pregnant women, children and adults with disabilities, and seniors. It is lean and efficient. Without Medicaid’s strong protections, coverage guarantee, and comprehensive, age-appropriate health and mental health coverage, many children would go uninsured or underinsured, increasing short and long term costs for states and local communities while jeopardizing children’s academic performance and their futures.
Our nation’s leaders must preserve Medicaid as we know it and reject structural changes and cuts that undermine its critical protections, hard-earned coverage and resulting health gains for children made over more than 50 years.
The Children’s Health insurance Program (CHIP) has been a lifeline for millions of children in low- and middle-income working families since its bipartisan beginning in 1997. Today, CHIP provides affordable, age-appropriate health coverage to almost 9.5 million children who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but who cannot afford to buy private coverage. CHIP also delivers quality, affordable care to pregnant women in 19 states, allowing them to obtain the care they need to have healthy pregnancies and give birth to healthy infants. All states operate their own CHIP programs within broad federal parameters to serve the unique needs of children and pregnant women with age-appropriate benefits, provider networks, and access to pediatric and perinatal specialists and facilities. CHIP has helped reduce the number of uninsured children nationally by half, improved health outcomes and access to care for children and pregnant women, and as a result helped reduce school absenteeism and improve children’s readiness to learn. In 2018 Congress extended CHIP funding for CHIP for a total of ten years, ensuring it will continue to be a critical part of the health coverage system for children in the years to come.
On March 23, 2009 President Obama signed into law landmark health reform legislation guaranteeing access to health coverage for millions of uninsured Americans, including 95 percent of all children. Since then, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has helped insure nearly 20 million Americans, while taking major steps to ensure that all people in America can have access to health coverage that is affordable, comprehensive and easy to get and to keep regardless of their gender, income, or health status. Since the ACA was enacted, CDF, in collaboration with others, has worked hard to ensure the ACA is implemented in a way that is as child-friendly as possible. Since 2009 we have, and continue to, submit public comments on various provisions that affect children and families to ensure the ACA lives up to its promise. As the ACA has come under attack, we have also fought to uphold the law and ensure its critical protections remain the law of the land.