Since its creation in 1997, the Children’s Health Insurance Program has allowed states to expand health coverage to children in families with incomes too high to qualify for traditional Medicaid but too low to afford private health insurance. Approximately 8 million children are covered through the program.
Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, improvements in Medicaid and CHIP have extended access to affordable health care coverage to millions of previously uninsured, non-Medicare-eligible adults and children. The uninsured population has reached a historic low. CHIP is not an entitlement but rather an optional program in which states may elect to participate. The program is funded jointly by states and the federal government.
This differs from Medicaid, which, as an entitlement, requires the state to enroll all qualified applicants and allows the state to draw down federal funds to help cover any enrollees beyond its budgeted projection.
Because nearly 65% of family physicians participate in Medicaid and provide care for children, AAFP members have a major stake in ensuring that CHIP remains a viable, useful means for providing care to at-risk children.
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