Administration proposal tackles core issues plaguing programs

In response to the Biden Administration’s announcement that it will streamline and standardize policies for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), First Focus on Children President Bruce Lesley made the following statement:

“We are extremely pleased by the Biden Administration’s commitment to reduce and eliminate the very issues that cause thousands of children to lose their health insurance every year. First Focus on Children has long called for cutting the programs’ legendary bureaucratic red tape and limiting renewals to once every 12 months, both steps that will prevent legions of eligible children — children entitled to health care — from being denied that care.

The proposed rule also will improve the quality of care by eliminating waiting periods in CHIP that sometimes keep children uninsured — meaning unvaccinated and unseen by doctors for vital pediatric care and well visits — for as long as three months, and by ending annual and lifetime caps on benefits that have limited care for children with chronic and long-term health care.

The proposed rule also seeks to eliminate the loss of coverage when income or categorical eligibility shifts to ensure that children maintain coverage between Medicaid and CHIP. We should strive to cover all kids, and the proposed rule ensures that families do not have to prove again and again and again that their kids are eligible for health coverage.

These long-overdue improvements to Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program could not come at a better time. A recent analysis by First Focus on Children and partner advocates found that paperwork and other burdens could cost nearly 7 million children — disproportionately Black, Latino and indigenous children — their health insurance at the end of the Public Health Emergency, currently scheduled for October.

The next step is to make CHIP permanent. CHIP, which turned 25 this summer, is one of the most effective and affordable mechanisms for providing child-specific health care, such as pediatricians and children’s hospitals, to millions of kids annually. Yet CHIP is the only federal health insurance program that requires constant renewal. In fact, in 2017, Congress allowed CHIP to expire, endangering the health care of millions of children for 132 very long days.

First Focus on Children looks forward to sharing our recommendations with the Administration during the 60-day comment period.”

For more information on the importance of Medicaid and CHIP for the nation’s children, please see:

Policy Brief: 10 Ways to Improve the Health Coverage of America’s Children
Fact Sheet: Medicaid — Cost-Effective Coverage that Works for Kids
Fact Sheet: CHIP must be permanently funded