It was a great victory for children and families when Congress included a maintenance of effort
(MOE) requirement in health reform so states wouldn’t cutback on Medicaid and CHIP coverage
before affordable coverage was available through the state Exchanges. Now, as with so many issues in health
care reform, the way it works out for children and their families will depend
on how these provisions are interpreted by policymakers in Washington, D.C. and
implemented by states.
Fortunately, the House and Senate leadership and key
health reform negotiators are keeping a close eye on the situation. This week, they stepped forward to urge
Secretary Sebelius to issue MOE guidance that will make it clear to states that
they cannot set up new enrollment caps or freezes in their Children’s Health
Insurance program (CHIP), making it harder for eligible uninsured children to
secure coverage. Specifically,
they point out in a new letter to the Secretary that the law prohibits
“the implementation of enrollment caps and freezes or other restrictive
eligibility procedures that were not already in place and operational as of
March 23, 2010”.
The letter was signed by Speaker Pelosi, Senate Majority
Leader Reid, Senate Finance Chairman Baucus, House Energy and Commerce Chairman Waxman, Senate Health Care Subcommittee Chairman Rockefeller and House Health
Subcommittee Chairman Pallone.
They wrote: “Working
together, we are confident that we can continue the nation’s successful track
record of covering low-income children even as we move forward on a parallel
track to implement broader reform that covers millions of Americans for the
I agree with that sentiment, don’t you?