Congress renews CHIP—thank you for your advocacy!

Written by: Sarah Barnes
Date Posted: January 26, 2018

This week, Congress extended funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), 114 days after it expired on Sept. 30, 2017. We’re grateful to all of you for keeping this issue top of mind for our federal delegation during the past few months. Take a moment to celebrate before we continue the fight for funding for community health centers, parent and infant support, Dreamers, and more (see below).

Congress extended CHIP for six years, through fiscal year 2023, as part of a short-term continuing resolution (CR) passed on Monday to keep the federal government funded until Feb. 8. There are 90,000 kids and pregnant women in Colorado who use CHIP, and these families can rest a little easier now, knowing their coverage will be there for them when they need it.

The CR included the same bipartisan CHIP policy that members of Congress agreed on in September:

  • A phasing out of the 23 percent enhancement in the CHIP match rate for states—the enhanced rate is maintained for two additional federal fiscal years, followed by a third year at an 11.5 percent enhanced rate, before ending the enhanced rate, at which time states would return to their previous match rates (which in Colorado is 65 percent).
  • A change in the Maintenance of Effort (MOE) provision (that requires states to maintain their CHIP eligibility levels at the same levels as when the Affordable Care Act passed) for eligibility levels above 300 percent of federal poverty (Colorado’s CHIP program eligibility level goes only to 260 percent of federal poverty).
  • An extension of Express Lane Eligibility and some other CHIP-related programs. Colorado is one of eight states that uses Express Lane Eligibility, which allows states to use eligibility for other public programs to determine eligibility for CHIP.

The 75-member Colorado CHIP Coalition sent a letter thanking our federal delegation for funding this vital program for six years and allowing Colorado families the comfort in knowing that their children will get the health care they need. Although we are relieved that Congress extended CHIP funding, they have not yet acted to fund Community Health Centers or maternal and infant voluntary home visiting programs. Financing for those programs also expired on Sept. 30.

We also call on Congress to protect the 800,000 young people, including 17,300 Coloradans, who are recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

To get off to the best start, kids need health insurance, access to community health centers and nurse visiting services and the security of knowing that their parents, relatives and friends are safe. We hope Congress will act to ensure that kids have access to all of the services they need to support their health and well-being.

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.