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Inflation chipping away at SCHIP

Health ChoiceThe state children’s health insurance program, Health Choice (or as it’s more generically referred to, SCHIP), is a big success. It’s so successful that Governor Easley has recommended expanding eligibility from its current level of 200% of the federal poverty level to 300% FPL. This would mean 12,000 more children in our state would be covered by health insurance. Governors in other states have embraced the SCHIP program and many have expanded their coverage to include more children (and some adults) above 200% FPL.

Since it was created as part of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, the SCHIP program has decreased the number of uninsured low-income children across the county by one-third.

Here’s the rub, SCHIP was set up on a block grant with fixed annual funding levels. As health care costs have risen over the past ten years, SCHIP funds have not, leaving states to make up the difference.

The National Governors Association sent a letter to Congress this week stating…

On behalf of the nation's governors we urge you to make the State Children's Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP) a top priority in this first session of the 110th Congress. Governors are united in support for this important program that serves over 6 million children nationwide. Coverage in the program will be jeopardized without your immediate action to prevent federal funding shortfalls.

Congress has an opportunity to fix problems and strengthen the SCHIP program. Let’s hope they act so that the recent gains in children’s health coverage are not lost.

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