With federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) set to expire in roughly eight weeks, many states are inching dangerously close to exhausting their federal CHIP funds. Further, cash-strapped state legislatures have ended their sessions already, leaving state CHIP directors without potential contingency plans should Congress fail to act. As a result, many have begun making plans to freeze programs or disenroll children.
Regrettably, Congress has yet to introduce legislation to fund CHIP or grant it a longer-term reauthorization despite recommendations from experts charged with advising legislators and pressure from state leaders, as demonstrated in this letter sent earlier this year by the National Governor’s Association. Congress will need to act quickly given that the looming Sept. 30 deadline leaves them with few legislative working days to ensure that nearly nine million children maintain their medical and dental coverage.
CHIP provides comprehensive coverage, including dental, for children from families who do not qualify for Medicaid, but cannot afford private insurance. In 2016, more than one in eight children in the U.S., or 8.9 million, were covered by CHIP.
A Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MEDPAC) evaluation of CHIP issued earlier this year found that compared to their uninsured peers, children covered by CHIP are more likely to have a “usual source of care, including dental care,” more likely to have preventative doctor and dentist visits, and less likely to report unmet medical and dental care needs.
Impact on General Dentistry: The AGD will continue to monitor negotiations and encourage lawmakers to extend funding for CHIP.