CHIP, Which Helps Hundreds of Thousands of Ohio Kids Every Year, Marks Silver Anniversary

1.3 million Ohio children were enrolled in Medicaid, including 230,000 through CHIP

click to enlarge Of the 1.2 million Ohio children covered under Medicaid, 31% are Black, 57% are white, and the rest are from other backgrounds. - (Adobe Stock)
(Adobe Stock)
Of the 1.2 million Ohio children covered under Medicaid, 31% are Black, 57% are white, and the rest are from other backgrounds.

As a program that's improved health insurance access for kids celebrates its silver anniversary, there are calls to ensure it remains strong for the future.

Friday is the 25th anniversary of the Children's Health Insurance Program, created by Congress to cover millions of kids who might not otherwise have health-care coverage.

Instead of creating a standalone program, said Loren Anthes, a public-policy fellow with the Center for Community Solutions, Ohio leverages CHIP dollars to extend Medicaid eligibility.

"It's a good deal, and you get a high return on that investment, from a policy perspective," he said. "There's all these positive benefits in terms of economic mobility, in terms of addressing things like educational outcomes or family stability."

Since CHIP began, the rate of uninsured kids in the United States has dropped nearly 10 percentage points. In June, 1.3 million Ohio children were enrolled in Medicaid, including 230,000 through CHIP.

Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, said she thinks Congress should permanently reauthorize CHIP, to build on the progress that has been made.

"A few times over the 25 years, CHIP has become a little bit of a political football, and we've seen some instances where we've had lapses in the program," she said. "So, we know that CHIP works, and having Congress move to make it permanent would be great."

During the federal public health emergency, states received more funding for Medicaid and were not allowed to drop people from Medicaid coverage. Anthes said because of that, overall enrollment increased by nearly 550,000 between March 2020 and March 2022.

"If there's anything that policymakers should be paying attention to, it's the ways in which we're ensuring that whole families can maintain their coverage as we're going through uncertain economic times," he said. "Because if we don't, there's a number of ripple effects that can happen, and the ones who are going to be paying for it are Ohio's children."

The public-health emergency is set to expire Oct. 13, but it could be extended, as it has been several other times.
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