As organizations serving Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (AA and NHPIs), we advocate for the future of our communities--our children. Putting the health and wellbeing of this and future generations first should be something we can all agree on. Healthy kids grow up to be healthy adults, and together build strong families and communities. Right now, Congress has a chance to put differences aside and extend funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for four more years.
25 percent of AA and NHPIs rely on Medicaid or CHIP. Together these programs provide a health care safety net. CHIP works by providing a lifeline for low-and middle-income children, offering them quality health coverage and access to more doctors and the care they need, but would otherwise never be able to afford. But with funding set to expire at the end of September, coverage for millions of kids hangs in the balance.
CHIP is more than just an insurance card, it is a ticket to better health for AA and NHPI kids and their families.
CHIP is tailored to children's needs, and often has better benefits, stronger protections and more providers than private pediatric plans available in the marketplaces. This includes better access to oral health, mental health and other services kids need.
CHIP protects struggling working families and their children from falling into the "dependent glitch," which occurs when the employer coverage of a working parent is affordable for the parent, but cost-prohibitive to cover the entire family. CHIP covers children if the family falls into this glitch. In 2012, 74 percent of uninsured AA and NHPI families were at risk of falling into the "dependent glitch."
CHIP gives states flexibility on the type of services they can cover, allowing states to offer culturally and linguistically appropriate care, a key element of coverage for AA and NHPIs who speak more than 100 different languages and trace their heritage to more than 50 different countries. Culturally and linguistically appropriate services allows for more effective care and better health outcomes.
CHIP was the first national investment in child quality measures, and as such, the first investment in investigating and reducing disparities in children's care. Addressing health disparities early on is critical because prevention and education in areas such as nutrition, oral health, and chronic disease screening prevent damaging and expensive health impacts later in life.
Extending CHIP for four years will better support the medical home model than a two-year patch, as it allows for needed stability of children's care. This stability is essential during a child's potential prime years of development. As the American Academy of Pediatrics writes, "A medical home is not a building, but an approach to providing comprehensive care." The medical home model is one of the most effective ways to provide care to AA and NHPI communities because the model requires investing in community participation, training and community development, as well as taking into account cultural practices and providing enabling services.
All children deserve the security and protection of affordable and comprehensive health care coverage. AA and NHPI kids, and millions of others, are counting on Congress to extend CHIP. For nearly 20 years, CHIP has delivered for children's health. We cannot stop now.
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