Challenges to Healthcare Laws May Affect Kids’ CHIP Coverage

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Over 3.3 million children could lose health insurance coverage as a result of a US Supreme Court ruling against the Obama administration in the King v. Burwell case, combined with a decision from Congress to not reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

“The combination of both policies would mean a lot of progress we’ve made over the last 20 years would be wiped out,” said Lisa Dubay, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute.

About 25% of Asian Americans and Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders depend on CHIP, which offers health care coverage and access to doctors and care to low-and-middle-income children.  The program provides a safety net for families in danger of falling into the “dependent glitch,” which happens when insurance coverage provided by a parent’s employer is cost-effective for the parent, but not so for the entire family, reports Jeffrey Caballero for The Huffington Post.

There are a variety of challenges toward children’s coverage coming in the next few months.  Without Congressional action, funding for CHIP will expire on September 30.  In addition, there is the possibility that the Supreme Court will come to the conclusion that federal health law subsidies only be allowed in state-run marketplaces instead of allowing them in the federal marketplace in the King v. Burwell case, which would result in an upset in coverage for families.  A decision on the case is expected by June.

Another issue concerns whether or not Congress will renew a portion of the health care law that requires states to continue coverage for children through 2019.  If this portion is dropped, some states could decide to scale back on eligibility, possibly ending Medicaid coverage for children who are in families with income levels between 138% and 200% of the federal poverty level, or between $33,465 and $48,500 for a family of four, writes Rebecca Adams for Roll Call.  Uninsured rates for those families would rise from 5.4% to 27.3%.

According to researchers from the Urban Institute, if CHIP funding were to be dropped, about 1.1 million children would see an end to their coverage.  If Congress also chose to end the requirement pertaining to Medicaid, an additional 828,000 children would lose coverage.  Also, if states chose to cancel Medicaid coverage for families with income levels above 138% of the federal poverty level, 1.4 million more children would lose coverage.

However, if none of these situations were to occur, it is estimated that the health care law would reduce the number of uninsured children by about 50%.