Health coverage for nearly 58,000 children in Washington State through the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is at risk in 2018 if Congress fails to act.
Federal funding for CHIP, a federal-state program established 20 years ago that provides no-cost or low-cost health insurance for children from lower income households whose families make too much money to qualify for Medicaid, expired in September.
CHIP funding has yet to run out in Washington. Health advocates and state leaders hope that Congress will renew the program that has helped to keep Washington’s uninsured rate for children among the lowest in the nation before the end of this year.
“Prevention is always preferable to treating disease and illness,” said Diane Oakes of Arcora Foundation, the Foundation of Delta Dental. “CHIP ensures access to critical preventive and early intervention oral health and medical care for vulnerable children throughout our state. Without it, many would either receive delayed treatment or no care at all.”
“Oral health also impacts school readiness and school success. When children are suffering from dental pain, they have a harder time sleeping at night, eating healthy foods, and paying attention in class,” Oakes added.
CHIP specifically helps working families provide coverage for children up to age 19. While income eligibility varies from state to state, Washington families making up to 312 percent of the federal poverty level are eligible for CHIP. For example, children living in a four-person household with a monthly income of up to $6,499 would be eligible for CHIP coverage.
Supporters of CHIP hope that its widespread appeal and past bipartisan support will lead to Congress including funding for the insurance program in a year-end spending bill. Otherwise, inaction could impact 9 million kids across the U.S.
Meanwhile, in Washington State, health care and children’s advocates continue to reach out to our state’s federal representatives, asking them to approve CHIP funding. Oral Health Watch urges you to contact Washington State’s delegation of senators and representatives to tell them that you support CHIP because every child deserves access to oral health and medical care.
Washington State CHIP facts:
- Nearly 58,000 Washington state children have health care coverage under CHIP.
- CHIP plays a vital role in maintaining Washington’s low (less than 3%) uninsured rate for children.
- CHIP dental benefits provide access to preventive care like routine checkups, cleanings, x-rays, fluoride treatments, and sealants. It also includes coverage for restorative treatments like fillings.
- Children enrolled in CHIP have access to essential medical care services, including immunizations, routine checkups, and other health care services to keep them healthy.
- All 39 counties in Washington State have children covered by CHIP.