Washington – A new brief released today by the bipartisan children’s advocacy organization First Focus finds that Congress’ failure to extend funding for the bipartisan Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) would result in over a million children becoming uninsured and additional millions facing higher cost for less child-specific care. The Potential Impact on Children and Families of Ending Federal Funding for CHIP in 2015 was authored for First Focus by Eugene Lewit, a Consulting Professor of Health Research and Policy at Stanford University, and it examines the consequences for children and families if Congress does not extend CHIP funding prior to its September 30th expiration date.

If Congress delays or fails to act altogether, over a million kids will lose health insurance – in the best-case scenario families  would be paying far more for less of the care CHIP delivers,” said Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus.

The brief compares premiums and out-of-pocket costs (deductibles, co-payments, and other costs applied when children receive care) in CHIP and Affordable Care Act (ACA) “marketplace” plans in 22 states that operate CHIP separate from their Medicaid programs. In other states offering CHIP coverage (Arizona is the only state that does not), CHIP is operated in combination with or as an expansion of the state’s Medicaid programs. The comparison finds that, for a family of four with an annual income of around $38,000, median annual cost sharing among CHIP plans is $90, but would jump to $446 under ACA plans.

“Even including premium costs, moving a child from CHIP to an exchange plan would an average more than double a family’s health care costs for that child,” said Lesley.

The brief also explores the health care consequences for children who would become uninsured if Congress fails to extend CHIP funding.  It cites a parent survey finding that children with CHIP coverage were 50 percent more likely to receive preventive care than uninsured children and less than half as likely to have unmet health care needs.

CHIP was created by a Republican-controlled Congress and Democratic President Bill Clinton in 1997.  In partnership with Medicaid, CHIP is widely credited with driving the nation’s uninsured rate for children to record lows, even in the wake of a recession that drove up child poverty.  A 2014 poll for the First Focus Campaign for Children found broad, bipartisan support for congressional action to extend CHIP funding.  And in October 2014, 1,200 leaders, including organizations from every state in the Union, urged congressional leadership to act quickly on CHIP funding.

“Delay would hurt millions of children and families, and early action would be popular with voters and community leaders all over the country – this should be a no-brainer,” said Lesley.


First Focus is a bipartisan advocacy organization dedicated to making children and families the priority in federal policy and budget decisions.  For more information, visit firstfocus.org.