Protect Children’s Health: Secure Funding for Child Health Insurance Program and Medicaid

Health insurance coverage is the foundation for good, lifelong health. It provides children with access to the preventative services and medical care they need to achieve and maintain their best physical, oral, and mental health.

Programs such as Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP or called Health Choice in NC) have helped North Carolina make tremendous strides in improving the health of children and youth.  According to the recent release of the NC Child Health Report Card, a historic high of 96% NC children receive health insurance coverage, including 27,000 children living here in Buncombe County.

Proposals to repeal the Affordable Care Act include capping state Medicaid funding, limiting the number of children able to access and obtain medical care. Funding for CHIP is currently set to expire on September 30, 2017, but most states are now finalizing their FY 2018 budgets, and need to know that CHIP will not run out of funding after next September.

Let your Congressional representatives know they need to make children’s health insurance programs a budget priority.

Check out our Federal Advocacy Toolkit to get links to how to look up your Senate and House of Representatives legislators as well as tips on calling and writing to your legislators.


Children enrolled in Medicaid and Health Choice are more likely to access preventative care, which allows them to miss fewer days at school, thus increasing their chances for academic success. And when children don’t  miss days in school, parents also don’t miss days at work.

Research has shown that children on Medicaid become healthier adults, earn higher wages, pay more in taxes and are ultimately more likely to reach their full potential when compared to their uninsured counterparts. In addition, these programs are a lifeline for working families, as nearly two thirds of children receiving Medicaid/N.C. Health Choice live in a family with at least one full-time worker.

• A cut to Medicaid is a cut to children’s health. Medicaid is a children’s program—over½ of all Medicaid recipients in North Carolina and nationally are children.

• Medicaid helps to ensure babies are born safely and healthy. Medicaid covers over 40% of the births in our state and is a key component in our state’s efforts to reduce infant mortality.

• Medicaid is best insurance program for children with disabilities and other specia needs. Current Medicaid law requires states to provide all “medically necessary”services for children enrolled in Medicaid, including children with extensive needs.

• Changing Medicaid into a block grant program would eliminate this critical protection.

• Capping funding would put states at risk if costs go up. They would have to make up the difference without any federal help. This would make it hard for states to deal with another recession or natural disasters like an epidemic, hurricane or earthquake.

• This is not a real solution. It is Congress talking about simply shifting the costs from the federal government to states and middle-class working families. The costs are still there, the states will just have to pay more.

Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP)

CHIP was created as part of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. To encourage states to participate, CHIP provided states with enhanced federal financing and greater flexibility in program design compared to Medicaid. At the time of CHIP’s creation, it was uncertain how many states would respond to this new federal funding opportunity. By fiscal year (FY) 2000, however, every state, territory, and the District of Columbia had children enrolled in CHIP-financed coverage.

In 1997, 10 million children were without health insurance, many of whom were in working families with incomes just above states’ Medicaid eligibility levels. Since the enactment of CHIP, the percentage of children lacking health insurance has been halved while uninsurance among adults grew. By 2012, fewer than 5 million children were uninsured. Seventy percent of this decline was due to additional enrollment of children in Medicaid rather than CHIP; however, the increased enrollment of children in both programs has been attributed to the availability of CHIP and the associated marketing and outreach efforts to enroll eligible but uninsured children . The number of children without health insurance decreased to 3.3 million in 2015

Further Reading

• “Doctor’s Orders: Fund Children’s Health Insurance”  Dr. Laurie Pulver, Dr. Jennifer Nicolini and Dr. Calvin Tomkins,  Asheville Citizen-Times

• Will Congress Act on CHIP Reauthorization? Laila A. Bell, NC Child

• 2017 Child Health Report Card Highlights Record-Breaking Children’s Health Insurance Coverage

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