Jay Rockefeller has so far saved the Children’s Health Insurance Program from being swallowed up by the mysterious but probably pretty crappy health care to be forced on poor families in the new health care system’s ‘health insurance exchanges’. He has got Reid’s bill to preserve CHIP till 2019! Not that it was just Rocky. Good on yah to Marian Wright Edelman too, and the Children’s Defense Fund, who are fighting for CHIP and children too. And Cynthia Tucker:
. . . the [new health insurance] exchanges might easily be more expensive. Yes, many families would be eligible for subsidies; but there is no guarantee the policies for their children would be as affordable, or as comprehensive, as they are under the CHIP programs.
We wanna guarantee every child access to all of the health services that they need and I don’t care whether they’ve got Medicaid or they’ve got CHIP or they’ve got private insurance or they’ve got the insurance that our elected representatives get. . . . Last thing we want — tell your neighbor, ‘Get rid of the jigsaw puzzle!’ You go from one state to the next, and in one state a child is covered and in the next state the child is not covered. That’s not right!
And thanks to the New England Alliance for Children’s Health and their action alert:
During the mark up process, the Senate Finance Committee approved an amendment from Senator Jay Rockefeller (D – WV) that preserves the CHIP program in its current form and maintains existing Medicaid and CHIP coverage for children through at least 2019. This amendment was substantively revised from its original version. To view the language of the revised Rockefeller amendment, please click here.
The Rockefeller amendment would require states to maintain income eligibility levels for children currently enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP and would allow states to expand these eligibility levels at any time. The CHIP benefit package and cost-sharing rules would continue as under current law, with states beginning to receive a higher CHIP match rate in 2014. . . .
Please contact your senators and ask them to reach out to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D – NV) and urge him to include the Rockefeller CHIP amendment and the EPSDT provisions from the original Chairman’s mark in the final Senate bill.
Stan Dorn, senior health policy researcher at the Urban Institute, said there are certain advantages to scrapping CHIP. Both Medicaid and exchange plans, for example, would never require congressionalreauthorization — a process CHIP is subjected to every few years, he pointed out. But due to CHIP’s affordability, Dorn said “it’s clear” that kids “are much better off” under CHIP than they would be under private exchange plans.
“It’s not even a close question,” Dorn said during a children’s health care forum on Capitol Hill Friday.
Studies suggest Dorn’s concerns are valid. One analysis, conducted by Watson Wyatt Worldwide, an actuarial research firm, found that families living between 175 and 225 percent of the federal poverty level pay just 2 percent or less of treatment costs under CHIP. Under the proposed exchange plans, researchers found, those same families would pay up to 35 percent of their children’s health costs.
"CHIP is the stronger coverage package, and we are very concerned about the idea that those kids would be moved over without some protection," said Bruce Lesley, director of First Focus, the national child advocacy group that commissioned the actuarial study.
The CHIP program includes developmental screening and preventative care that is not covered by most adult plans. It covers a wide range of services, including doctor and hospital visits, immunizations and prescriptions, tests and X-rays, diabetic care, and dental and vision care. It provides case management for children with special needs.
"There are many wonderful parts of the reform legislation, and many things in health care that need to be changed," Lesley said, "but this is one that should be left alone."
And a big shout out to Mike Lillis at the Washington Independent, for covering the issue when too many pwoggies seem all too willing to sweep children under the rug in the interest of ‘getting _something_ passed’.
As I said in an earlier diary, CHIP is not being killed (it’s still dead in the House bill) out of ignorance about what its destruction will do. In fact, the concerns of Marian Wright Edelman and others have been reflected and rejected in the House debate, as Mike Lillis notes:
Some House lawmakers recognize the potential problems. During the markup of health reform legislation in the Education and Labor Committee, for example, lawmakers passed an amendment – offered by Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) – requiring that all exchange plans offer EPSDT services. That proposal, however, was stripped out in the final bill.
Another amendment, offered by Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Col.), would have prevented the shift from CHIP to private plans unless the White House provided certification that the private plans offered comparable benefits. That proposal passed the Energy and Commerce Committee, but was also removed in the final bill.
DeGette’s office said earlier this week that the certification language was removed "to reflect some budgetary constraints."
Finally, as I think I said somewhere along the way, what matters is the guarantee of no cost increases and coverage as good as that provided by CHIP. Saving CHIP is what accomplishes that right now, but there are also other ways of achieving those goals.
Anyway, the fight ain’t over; let’s keep our eyes on children’s needs.