What is CHIP? 7 things to know about the Children’s Health Insurance Program


Amid efforts to unsuccessfully repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act in the fall, lawmakers let the Children’s Health Insurance Program (or CHIP) to expire on Sept. 30.

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And now, doctors and patients are worried that money for the program, which provides 9 million kids across the country with low-cost health insurance, will run out.

In fact, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 16 states expect to run out of CHIP reserve funds by the end of January, and three-quarters of the states expect to run out by March.

In a tearful monologue Monday with his infant son, late-night host Jimmy Kimmel blasted Congress for failing to reauthorize the program.

“This is literally a life-and-death program for American kids,” Kimmel said. “It’s always had bipartisan support, but this year, they let the money for it expire while they work on getting tax cuts for their billionaire and millionaire donors.”

Several lawmakers, including Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy spoke out following Kimmel’s speech.

>> Related: Your guide to health care changes in Georgia

>> Related: Consumed by Obamacare repeal, Congress lets several beloved health programs expire

Here are 7 things to know about CHIP:

What is CHIP?

According to HealthCare.gov, CHIP is a no-cost or low-cost health insurance program that provides coverage to children in families that earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but who can’t afford private coverage.

The program is funded by both states and the federal government, but it is state-administered, meaning each state sets their own guidelines on eligibility and services.

In Georgia, the CHIP program is PeachCare for Kids.

CHIP’s history

In 1997, Congress passed Title XXI of the Social Security Act, which enabled states to create programs for the growing number of uninsured children in the country.

The program was created during the Clinton administration by the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. At the time, 10 million children were without health insurance and many of those children were part of working families with incomes slightly above states’ Medicaid eligibility levels, according to the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission.

>> Related: 5 ways to get the most out of your health insurance plan

The Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA) reauthorized CHIP in April 2009.

The next year, the Affordable Care Act contained provisions to strengthen the program and later extended CHIP funding until September 30, 2015. It also required states to maintain eligibility standards through 2019. 

By 2015, 18 years after its enactment, 3.3 million children in the U.S. were without health insurance.

In October 2017, however, Congress missed a deadline to reauthorize CHIP, which expired on Sept. 30.

>> Related: How well is Georgia caring for its children?

“Lawmakers and staffers in Congress say CHIP funding will likely be included in an end-of-year spending bill,” NPR reported Tuesday. “But as of now, there is no CHIP funding bill scheduled for consideration.”

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