The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) was passed in 1997 to provide health insurance to children in low-income working families who don’t have access to insurance through their employers, but earn too much to qualify for Medicaid. It has dramatically expanded health coverage for children across the country, allowing them access to essential preventive care. And prevention is key: healthy children are more likely to become healthy adults. CHIP is up for renewal at the end of September 2017 and unless it passes through both houses of Congress, almost 9 million children covered by the act will be in jeopardy of losing their access to healthcare.
Supporting the health and development of young children, through programs like CHIP, produces benefits for decades.
First enacted on a bipartisan basis during the Clinton administration, The Children’s Health Insurance Program has reduced the uninsurance rate for children by almost 70%. 10.4 million children did not have coverage in 1997, and 4.4 million in 2014. It has been renewed a few times since, most recently through the Affordable Care Act. Today, over 95% of American children have insurance, with more than 40% covered by Medicaid or CHIP. This week, a bipartisan bill advanced in the Senate to reauthorize the program for another five years. That bill now awaits a House version before the deadline.
We expect The Children’s Health Insurance Program funding to continue, as it has repeatedly been shown to have positive impacts on children’s health. Early childhood education and care is among the few issues that enjoy bipartisan support at all levels. Numerous measures have been passed, often with broad voter approval, to raise revenues for pre-kindergarten, child care subsidies, infant and toddler healthcare, and other important developmental supports for young children and their families.
Unfortunately, we are not in a typical environment, and advocates for CHIP’s renewal can take nothing for granted this time.
Private philanthropy has played a significant role in the growth of support for early childhood over the past decade. In our practice at Arabella Advisors alone, I have seen many clients, across a spectrum of small to large, family to institutional, and community to corporate donors, invest in the early years. All are following the ample and growing body of evidence indicating the long-term ROI of quality early care and education, parent engagement, and family-friendly workplace policies. Brain scientists, economists, and child development specialists alike have repeatedly demonstrated this impact on children, their families, and communities.
What can we do to support the Children’s Health Insurance Program :
Now is the time to ensure that our policymakers understand the need to renew CHIP. Here are three simple things you can do to ensure that CHIP remains a bipartisan win for all of us:
- Stay informed by following and supporting the work of federal advocacy organizations working on this issue, including First Focus, Children’s Defense Fund, First Five Years Fund, FamiliesUSA and others. You can also learn more about Children’s Health here at Giving Compass
- Inform others. Although the Children’s Health Insurance Program is twenty years old, it gets less attention than the Affordable Care Act or Medicare. It’s a true success story, and offers a narrative about how government can work for those in need. Tell the story!
- Help elevate the voices of those who rely on CHIP. Even if you are not a directly funding early childhood programs, it’s likely that organizations you support work with people who are CHIP members. Help them connect with advocates to share their stories.
CHIP renewal can provide a much-needed shot of bipartisan medicine, not just for our kids, but for ourselves as well. Children across the country need your support: let’s not let them down.
Original Contribution by Gwen Walden. Senior Managing Director in Arabella’s San Francisco office. She leads the firm’s West Coast practice and works with clients on health, early childhood, and other issues.
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