CHIPRA IS ONE YEAR OLD TODAY – Say Ahhh! A Children’s Health Policy Blog

In many cultures, the first birthday of a child is a
major community celebration.  It
signifies that the baby has made it through the critical first year and is now
destined for great things.  

We should be celebrating the first year of the
Children’s Health Insurance Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA).  CHIPRA renewed the Children’s Health Insurance Program
(CHIP) and gave states new tools and fiscal incentives to enroll more uninsured
children in CHIP and its larger companion program, Medicaid.  Unfortunately, for many of us, it just
doesn’t seem right to have a big celebration when there is so much uncertainty over the
future of health reform.  I confess
that I was reluctant to celebrate CHIPRA but when I thought about how the past
year would have been without it, I came to my senses.  Without CHIPRA and the temporary
increase in federal funding for Medicaid included in the economic stimulus
package, the health needs of so many more children would have gone unmet. 


In the past year, while private insurance has become less
available and more expensive and families faced the most difficult economic
times since the Great Depression, the renewed CHIP program and Medicaid have
offered a vital lifeline to America’s children.  Thanks to the strong resolve of
national and state leaders, many of our children have been sheltered from this
economic storm.  

CHIPRA, and the increased funding for Medicaid, helped
states strengthen and maintain their commitment to children’s health coverage just when they needed it most.  While the financial investment was relatively small, it made
a huge difference in the lives of the people it helped.  Just ask the Simpson family from
Benton Arkansas who were able to maintain CHIP coverage for their children when
Mr. Simpson lost his job as an electrician. 

This is but one example of the lives touched by the positive
actions of national and state leaders to sustain and strengthen children’s health coverage over the past year. 
Families with children who had asthma, diabetes or autism who couldn’t afford private insurance had access to health coverage so they could get their
children the treatment and preventive care so crucial to their well-being.  Parents who lost their jobs and health
insurance were able to turn to CHIP or Medicaid to secure coverage for their
children.  (It would be better for
the entire family if the parents also had access to stable, affordable health
coverage that didn’t disappear when they lost their jobs but we’ll
have to wait for broader health reform to make that improvement to the health
care system.) 

CHIPRA was not intended to solve all of the gaps in our
health care system but was designed as a bridge until our nation’s leaders were able to pass broader health reform.  While the timing of health reform is uncertain, one fact
remains clear – children and families need access to secure, stable, affordable
health coverage that won’t be taken away if they lose a job or become sick. 

So what should we give CHIPRA on her first birthday?  How about a sibling named Health Reform?

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