Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP)Background:
For several years St. Barnabas has been very active in helping families in our community obtain information about and register children for CHIP. Since the simplification of the application form, we have also enrolled children in Medicaid. These are the healthcare safety nets for more than 2 million Texas children. CHIP is a joint federal and state program for working families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but can not afford commercial health coverage. To be eligible, a child must be a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident, under age 19 and uninsured for 90 days. The family income and resources must be above the Medicaid eligibility limit and at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.
Due to our efforts at least several hundred families now have coverage for doctor’s visits, hospitalization, lab tests, dental care, and other services. We work closely with the Council of PTA’s in the Richardson Independent School District (RISD). The schools distribute flyers that publicize regular registration opportunities at St. Barnabas, usually the third Saturday morning every month of the school year. In addition, we participate in on site registrations at health fairs, pre-school roundups, immunization drives, carnivals, PTA meetings and other events.
The 2003 state budget cuts to health and human services programs, traditionally under funded for low and moderate income Texas families, and policy changes implemented in early 2006 resulted in a 41 % decrease in CHIP enrollment between Sept. 2003 and August 2006. Texas has the highest rate of uninsured children in the nation: 21.6 %, or1.4 million children. Approximately half of these children are eligible but not enrolled in CHIP or Medicaid.
Children who lack health insurance are less likely to have a medical home with timely access to a doctor or to specialty care when needed. They are more likely to receive sporadic care from emergency rooms or clinics, and that drives up healthcare costs for everyone. Uninsured children are less likely to be immunized against serious childhood illnesses, and they face lower odds of becoming healthy, productive adults.
A more detailed description of the impact of CHIP can be obtained from the Center for Public Policy Priorities (www.cppp.org). If you are unsure of your district, please call the League of Women Voters at 972-470-0584 or look on your voter registration card. In addition, Martha Dorris will try to answer any questions you may have about this outreach (972-690-4908).
Children's Health Insurance Program