Congresswoman Nanette Diaz Barragán last week announced two pieces of legislation to strengthen and improve the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which currently provides health coverage to 9.6 million low-income children, including nearly 1.3 million Californian children.
The Ensuring Kids Have Access to Medically Necessary Dental Care Act would expand access to dental coverage for children under CHIP. The bill would eliminate lifetime and annual limits for dental care. The bill would also require states to provide “wraparound” CHIP dental coverage, meaning CHIP would cover dental services for eligible children who are not enrolled in CHIP. Currently, if a child is eligible for CHIP but instead has coverage under a group health plan or employer-sponsored insurance, states have the option of providing dental-only coverage to this child through CHIP. This bill requires that dental coverage be offered.
“When kids need to see a dentist, they should be able to see a dentist. The decisions should be made by kids’ parents and their dentists, not dictated by an insurance company or outdated government rules. This bill will make sure children will have access to the dental care they require and deserve,” Congresswoman Barragán said.
The Children’s Health Insurance Program provides comprehensive affordable health coverage to eligible children. It is required to cover well-baby and well-child care, behavioral health care, and vaccines. CHIP is designed and administered by states, according to federal requirements. States also set their own eligibility requirements for the CHIP program, within federal guidelines. California, for instance, has eligibility set at 266 percent of the poverty level.
Congresswoman Barragán’s other CHIP bill, the Children’s Health Insurance Program Permanency (CHIPP) Act would permanently fund CHIP and allow states to more easily expand eligibility up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level.
CHIP is currently the only federal health insurance program that requires its funding to be reauthorized periodically. This dangerous precedent leaves the program vulnerable to potential lapses in funding.
This occurred in 2017 when CHIP temporarily expired for several months, putting states at risk of running out of money for the program and threatening the coverage of children who rely on CHIP to get the care they require. The CHIPP Act will ensure that funding for this vital program will no longer be held hostage during partisan budget battles.
“Our goal is to make sure every child in this country has access to the medical care she or he needs, when she or he needs it. This bill would get us closer to that goal.”
U.S. Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán
“Our goal is to make sure every child in this country has access to the medical care she or he needs, when she or he needs it. This bill would get us closer to that goal,” Congresswoman Barragán said.
Joining Congresswoman Barragán as original co-sponsors of both bills are Congressmembers Tony Cárdenas (Calif.), Bobby L. Rush (Ill.), Sanford Bishop (Ga.), Alcee L. Hastings (Fla.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.) and Steve Cohen (Tenn.).
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