Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Reauthorization Needed

 

The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) was created by Congress in 1997 to provide quality healthcare coverage for children under age 19 in families that earned too much to qualify for Medicaid, but could not afford to purchase private coverage. Michigan’s CHIP program is called MIChild.

Unless Congress acts, new funding for CHIP/MIChild will end on October 1, 2015. The resulting loss of federal funds to Michigan would exceed $100 million.

Michigan continues to have a very high rate of insured children, about 96%, in large measure due to Medicaid and MIChild. In 2012, about 92% of eligible children in Michigan participated in either Medicaid or MIChild. In February 2015, 40,846 children were enrolled in MIChild.

MIChild provides comprehensive coverage for $10 per month per family, a cost much lower than Marketplace plans. There are no copays for services. More than 90% of cases closed over the last three months were due to the child(ren) becoming eligible for Medicaid (reduction in family income) or the family did not pay premiums timely, indicating higher premiums in the Marketplace could be very problematic for the families.

In addition to general medical and dental benefits, other benefits offered include:

  • Medications
  • Immunizations
  • Inpatient and outpatient behavioral health services
  • Vision exams and corrective lenses
  • Hearing exams and hearing aids
  • Physical and occupational therapy
  • Services for speech, hearing and language disorders
  • Durable medical equipment

The Department of Community Health is exploring the conversion of the MIChild program to a Medicaid expansion program with the full range of Medicaid services. The program would become part of the state’s rebid for managed care organizations to cover Medicaid enrollees, rather than a separate program as it is now. This would allow newly eligible parents (under the state’s Medicaid expansion called the Healthy Michigan Plan) and their child(ren) to be enrolled in the same health plan. The $10 premium per family would be retained.