Grave impact of federal health care policy decisions on children comes into focus

Following the passage of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) by the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this month, the U.S. Senate is now in the process of bringing its version of a proposal to a vote in the Senate. The provisions of the House bill would have devastating impacts on health insurance coverage and access to care for Colorado kids.

Approximately half of all kids in Colorado are covered by Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP, known as Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+) in Colorado), for at least part of the year. Medicaid covers the vast majority of kids covered by these two programs—and it covers both those whose families have the lowest incomes, and those with the greatest health care needs. Its financing structure also allows the program to expand coverage quickly in the event of a natural disaster or economic recession. The bill passed by the House would cut $800 billion in federal funding for Medicaid and cap the entire Medicaid program, shifting costs to states. There is no way to impose these cuts on the Medicaid program without impacting coverage for kids in Colorado who need it most.

CHP+ is a critical source of health coverage for kids whose families earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford private health insurance and it has worked together with Medicaid to help Colorado’s percent of uninsured kids decline to 4.2 percent in 2015. Federal funding for CHP+ runs out on Sept. 30 and Congress has yet to act to extend it.

Colorado’s significant progress in reducing the uninsured rate for kids is under threat, from the passage of the AHCA in the House, the proposed cuts to Medicaid, and the looming end of financing for CHP+.

In the past week, several national newspapers have written about the significant hit to children’s coverage that would come if the AHCA were to pass and if financing for CHIP is not extended. The long-term consequences of adding barriers to health for kids in poverty are significant. Read more in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today and The Atlantic.

Sarah Barnes

About Sarah Barnes

Sarah serves as the Policy Analyst for the Colorado Children’s Campaign. Prior to joining the Children’s Campaign in September 2014, Sarah taught middle school English and worked as an Interventionist at Pioneer Charter School in Denver. She was a 2011 Teach For America corps member. Prior to teaching, Sarah worked as an attorney in Denver in the areas of venture capital, mergers and acquisitions, general corporate and business law, and commercial transactions. Sarah earned a BA in English from Midland University and a J.D. from the University of Michigan.
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