Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP): Accomplishments, Challenges, and Policy Recommendations
Sixteen years ago, the 105th Congress, responding to the needs of 10 million children in the United States who lacked health insurance, created the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) as part of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. Enacted as Title XXI of the Social Security Act, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP; or SCHIP as it has been known at some points) provided states with federal assistance to create programs specifically designed for children from families with incomes that exceeded Medicaid thresholds but that were insufficient to enable them to afford private health insurance. Congress provided $40 billion in block grants over 10 years for states to expand their existing Medicaid programs to cover the intended populations, to erect new stand-alone SCHIP programs for these children, or to effect some combination of both options. Congress reauthorized CHIP once in 2009 under the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act and extended its life further within provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. The purpose of this statement is to review the features of CHIP as it has evolved over the 16 years of its existence; to summarize what is known about the effects that the program has had on coverage, access, health status, and disparities among participants; to identify challenges that remain with respect to insuring this group of vulnerable children, including the impact that provisions of the new Affordable Card Act will have on the issue of health insurance coverage for near-poor children after 2015; and to offer recommendations on how to expand and strengthen the national commitment to provide health insurance to all children regardless of means.