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By Alison Buist
March 2, 2018
California children got a big win in February when, in a series of actions, Congress passed a strong extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (or “CHIP”) that will fund the program for ten more years. This was a huge relief for families, child advocates, and policy makers alike, because, while CHIP has had strong bipartisan support, Congress had actually allowed its funding to lapse at the end of last September as they focused on other priorities. As a result, California had come perilously close to spending its last CHIP dollars.
If you have been following CDFCA at any time in the past few years, you have probably heard about — and may have taken action to support — CHIP, which provides affordable, comprehensive, child-appropriate health coverage to more than 2 million children and pregnant women in California. At a time when so many core supports for low-income families are at risk from repeated federal attacks, it is exciting and gratifying to be able to celebrate a big win for children that will make a difference throughout their lives.
And the good news doesn’t end there. By extending CHIP for a full ten years, Congress actually saved $6 billion, reflecting the higher cost of alternative — and less pediatric appropriate — coverage. Further, because the federal CHIP funding renewal did not include some of the cuts states had feared and some had planned for, California will have an additional $900 million in its state budget in fiscal years 2017-2019 that could be used to make improvements in care for children if state lawmakers decide to make that a priority. CDFCA has been urging the state to make smart investments in children’s health with these funds.
We at CDFCA would like to thank everyone who helped get CHIP — at long last — over the finish line, where children and families can count on it for another decade. We will continue to work towards improvements in coverage and care for children, but for now, you can check worrying about CHIP off your list.