Congress has allowed the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which insures 9 million children in the United States, to expire. The program provided coverage for children in families making under 200% Federal Poverty Level (FPL) as well as to pregnant women. CHIP played a huge part in decreasing the rate of uninsured children from 14% in 1997 to 4.5% in 2015. By taking no action to renew the program before September 30, 2017 the U.S. Congress allowed the program to lose future funding, putting millions of American children at risk of major health complications from ordinarily treatable conditions.
CHIP covers comprehensive coverage for children, including routine check-ups, immunizations, doctor visits, prescriptions, dental and vision care, inpatient and outpatient hospital care, laboratory and x-ray services, and emergency services. The out-of-pocket costs are different depending on which state a family is living in, but they will not exceed 5% of a family’s annual income. For the 9 million children covered by CHIP, many live with chronic health conditions like diabetes that could cost a family much more than 5% of their annual income were they to lose their coverage.
In the House of Representatives, partisan differences in whether CHIP should be funded by taking money from Medicare and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to offset the cost of the program are also taking their toll and drafting the bill to cut healthcare funding Americans also rely on. Due to Congress’ inaction, funding for CHIP programs has ceased on the federal level and now states have limited funds allocated for paying for CHIP services—funds that at least ten states will exhaust before the end of 2017 and an additional 32 states will run out by March 2018. States are now working to ensure the future of programs or risk terminating enrollment before the end of the year.
There will be further developments in health care in America, and we at NeedyMeds will try to keep up-to-date on the details. We at NeedyMeds prefer to remain apolitical—we work in a diverse office with people of varying backgrounds and views—but we believe in being informed and that those in need deserve care. It should be clear that NeedyMeds supports improved access to care as well as lower costs for medications and healthcare services for all.
NeedyMeds also encourages Americans to be active in the legislative process: If you have an opinion on the future of CHIP or other healthcare issues in the United States, call 202-224-3121 to reach the U.S. Capitol switchboard; from there you can be connected to your elected House Representative or Senator’s office.
We at NeedyMeds will continue to provide information as the need for assistance navigating the often expensive landscape of health care rises. The NeedyMeds website has databases of Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs), Diagnosis-Based Assistance (DBAs), and Free/Low-cost/Sliding-scale Clinics to help those in need. We also have information on camps and retreats or academic scholarships for children and their loved ones affected by illness. The NeedyMeds Drug Discount Card can save users up to 80% off the cash price of prescription medications for those without insurance or choose to use the card instead of insurance. In addition to the plastic card, the card is available in a printable form or a smartphone app for Apple and Android devices. For more help finding information, call our toll-free helpline Monday-Friday 9am-5pm Eastern Time at 1-800-503-6897.