Early Wins for Children and Families in Health Reform Highlighted – Say Ahhh! A Children’s Health Policy Blog

Today, CCF released a new issue brief that takes a look
at some of the most immediate changes in health reform for children and
families. While many of the sweeping changes to the insurance industry and
other major provisions do not go into effect until 2014, children have some
much earlier “wins” to look forward to. 

High on the list of early benefits from the legislation
is the strengthened opportunity families now have to enroll their uninsured
children in Medicaid and CHIP. Out in the “real world”, where people don’t have
time to read legislation, many families are seeking information on what the law
means to them today. This creates an opportunity to raise awareness among
eligible families that their children can obtain coverage through Medicaid and
CHIP. Let’s not forget the experience in 1997 when CHIP was created – with the
excitement of the new law many new families came forward to enroll in coverage,
only to find out that they were already eligible for Medicaid. 

In addition, health reform includes two provisions to
assist families in obtaining coverage. States are required to “hold steady
when it comes to Medicaid and CHIP coverage for children until October 1, 2019
so families can count on the coverage being there when they need it.  In addition, Health and Human Services
must set up a new web portal by July 1, 2010 to provide information to families
on state-level health insurance options. A boost in enrollment, or as we like
to call it, the “welcome mat effect”, could be a potentially powerful tool for
increasing the number of insured children in the nation, and setting the stage
for health reform.

Other health insurance reforms discussed in the paper
that quickly go in effect include:

  • By July 1, 2010, uninsured children and families with
    pre-existing conditions can seek coverage through newly established 50-state
    high-risk pools.
  • For health plan years beginning after September 23,
    2010, everyone signing up for a new health plan will receive preventive
    services at no cost, insured children cannot be denied coverage for a
    pre-existing condition, and young adults up to age 26 can obtain coverage
    through a parent’s plan.
  • New health insurance reforms make it easier for people
    to use and keep thier insurance (various implementation dates).

While we have to wait until 2014 to see some of the more
dramatic changes to how people receive health coverage in this country, these
early reforms are “not anything to sneeze about” and, in fact, could have a
real impact on the lives of children and their families.

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