Continued CHIP eligibility could keep more KY kids covered / Public News Service

The federal children’s health insurance program helps keep more than 620,000 Kentucky children insured.

A new report finds that CHIP, which turns 25 this week, is a lifeline for families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but don’t have access to employer-sponsored coverage.

Emily Beauregard, CEO of Kentucky Voices for HealthHe said an emergency provision enacted during the pandemic has meant that children dependent on CHIP have quality health care, regardless of changes in their parents’ jobs or income.

“When your income changes from month to month, or if it’s seasonal because maybe you’re a farmer,” he said, “then you’re more likely to have times when your income is over the limit, and then other times when you’re below the limit.

Beauregard said the public health emergency declaration will expire in October. The federal government has said it will give states at least 60 days’ notice of the final deadline, so agencies can begin contacting families to ensure children don’t go without coverage.

Beauregard added that the state could make continued eligibility permanent, which she believes would reduce costs in the future.

“It leads to healthier children, but it’s also less expensive administratively,” he said. “And over time, kids are healthier because they have coverage all the time.”

Beauregard noted that CHIP covers more than half of the nation’s black and Hispanic children, and said raising awareness of upcoming changes and re-registration in these populations is essential, in addition to ensuring lasting federal funding for the program.

“These are all ways we can make sure kids are as healthy as possible,” he said.

Research shows that children who have CHIP coverage see their doctor and dentist regularly and are less likely to visit an emergency room.

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