What is SCHIP?
Adopted in 1997 with strong bipartisan support, SCHIP builds on the Medicaid program, providing insurance for low income children who are not eligible for Medicaid. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services administers SCHIP, but states are free to design the programs, set eligibility limits, structure benefit packages, and establish operating procedures within federal guidelines. The federal government funds SCHIP like Medicaid, through state matching funds. SCHIP and Medicaid have helped cover millions of children who would otherwise go without coverage.
What Is the Current Status of SCHIP?
In December 2007, Congress passed and the President signed S.2499, the Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP Extension Act of 2007. S.2499 maintains current SCHIP funding levels which will allow states to continue covering children currently enrolled in SCHIP until March 31, 2009. Although the bill provides a necessary and welcome extension of SCHIP, it falls far short of expanding the program to cover the more than 9 million children who remain uninsured.
UWA’s SCHIP Policy Recommendations
We urge the federal government to:
Increase funding for SCHIP to cover all eligible uninsured children;
Offer “clean” legislation, meaning the bill addresses the children’s coverage issue only;
Provide states with fiscal incentives to encourage them to reach children who are currently eligible for coverage but not enrolled in SCHIP-funded programs;
Support streamlined enrollment, making it easy for parents to access coverage;
Ensure that states are allocated the necessary funding and flexibility to continue to expand coverage to more children; and
Retain Medicaid benefits, as Medicaid should not be weakened in order to finance SCHIP.
United Way of America will continue to monitor the SCHIP reauthorization process and advocate for its full reinstatement.