States Should Take Advantage of Enhanced CHIP Funding to Keep Kids Connected to Coverage
CHIP funding is available in most states to keep eligible children connected to coverage at the end of the public health emergency.
Half of the nation’s children access health care through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and as many as 1 in 5 of them could be at risk for a gap or loss of coverage when the public health emergency continuous coverage protections are lifted.
The unwinding of the continuous health coverage protection is expected to be the largest single public coverage enrollment event in history affecting children and their families. With the end of the public health emergency protections looming, a new report by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families recommends that states immediately re-examine their current strategies and make plans to keep eligible children enrolled in public coverage by boosting outreach and consumer assistance. If states act now, there is time to secure the additional Families First Coronavirus Relief Act federal funding to develop materials, commence marketing and outreach campaigns, boost funding for navigators and assisters, and provide grants to community-based organizations that serve at-risk populations, including rural communities and families of color, according to the report.
“The pandemic and economic turmoil have taken a big toll on children and families and the impact will linger long after the public health emergency is lifted,” said Tricia Brooks, research professor at the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families. “States can cushion the blow by leveraging CHIP outreach funding to ensure no child eligible for public coverage falls through the cracks and becomes uninsured.”
The report examines available CHIP data on state investments in outreach and consumer assistance and finds that almost all states can boost their investments without hitting the 10 percent cap on overall CHIP administrative expenses. While states are required by law to conduct outreach to families of children likely to be eligible for CHIP or Medicaid and assist them in enrolling their children, less than one-third of states (13) reported direct expenditures for outreach in 2020.
“States run Medicaid and CHIP so Governors should be held responsible for whether children become uninsured when the public health emergency coverage protections lift,” noted Joan Alker, CCF executive director. “Our report finds that almost all states have CHIP funding available to them to boost outreach and provide assistance to children and families.”
The report also recommends that states focus more funding and resources on children of color and households with limited English proficiency who historically have higher uninsured rates. Only 1 in 4 states reported expenditures for interpretation and translation services, which are essential for children in families with limited English proficiency. A lack of access to language supports and culturally-competent consumer assistance, in addition to the effects of anti-immigration policy, are primary reasons why Latino children are more than twice as likely to be uninsured compared to non-Latino children.