Congress’ Continued Failure to Act on CHIP Puts Our Children’s Health at Risk

CHIPMore than two months have passed since Congress failed to meet the September 30 deadline to renew funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Last year, CHIP insured nearly nine million children, including a significant number of Latino children.

If Congress fails to act soon and reauthorize CHIP funding, millions of our nation’s children stand to lose their health coverage.

Continue reading

It is Past Time for Congress to Fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program

By David Thomsen, Policy Analyst, Health Policy Project, UnidosUS

Photo: 401kcalculator.org

The latest threat to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and gut the Medicaid program has been halted—for now. While this was certainly a positive development for our community, we must quickly pivot to critical work in other areas. One of our biggest concerns is that currently, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is at risk of ending and leaving nearly nine million children across the country without the affordable care they need to grow up healthy.

Last week, while Congress was focused on undermining the ACA, they missed the September 30 deadline to reauthorize funding for a program that last year insured nearly nine million children, including many Latino children. UnidosUS has called on Congress to reauthorize CHIP funding, without further delay, through written testimony to the Senate Finance Committee, which is responsible for this program.

Continue reading

Latino Child Health Coverage Rate Reaches Record High, But Threats Loom

By Steven T. Lopez, Manager, NCLR Health Policy Project, and Sonya Schwartz, Research Fellow, Georgetown University McCourt School of Public Policy’s Center for Children and Families

Latino children with health coverage reached a record high 92.5 percent in 2015, the second year after key provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) took effect, according to our new joint report with the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families. These gains are part of larger overall coverage gains for America’s children. For the first time in U.S. history, more than 95 percent of all children have health coverage.

But until every child has the opportunity to receive health coverage, it is crucial for us to continue to build on the progress that has already been made.

Looking back more than a decade, we can see just how far we have come in covering more Latino children. In 2000, around 26 percent of Latino children were uninsured. Fast forward to 2013, right before major coverage provisions of the ACA took effect, and two million Latino children, or 11.5 percent, were uninsured.

Continue reading

Ensuring Our Kids Have a Healthy Summer

On Tuesday, June 7, NCLR joined another weekly #SaludTues Twitter chat to discuss children’s health and how parents can ensure their kids stay healthy over the summer. Because students are on summer vacation, they may lack access to regular nutritious meals and the routine that the school year provides. Luckily, there are many ways parents can keep their young ones healthy throughout the hot summer months.

Below are selected highlights from our chat:

A Victory for Children’s Health in Arizona

12973164_10153601388876247_1216544096698163255_oLast week, a bipartisan effort in the Arizona state legislature secured passage of legislation to unfreeze KidsCare, the state’s version of the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program. In doing so, Democrats and Republicans came together to restore a critical program that will provide thousands of children with the opportunity and the ability to live a healthy life.

This is a big win for children and families across the state. With the restoration of KidsCare, children living in families who earn a little too much to qualify for Medicaid, but still lack affordable coverage options through the private market, now have access to health coverage. The state’s Medicaid agency estimates that the restoration of KidsCare will provide between 30,000 and 40,000 children with affordable health coverage specifically designed for kids.

Continue reading

The Benefits of Restoring KidsCare for Arizona’s Children and Families

AZKidsCare_fbsize

Photo: Children’s Action Alliance facebook page

All children deserve the opportunity to grow up healthy and thrive, and access to quality, affordable health coverage is critical to making that happen. Research shows that children with health coverage have greater academic success and increased economic opportunities as adults. However, for too many children in Arizona, this opportunity is out of reach. Arizona is the only state in the country without an active Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), known as KidsCare in Arizona, a key coverage option for low-income children whose families earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but may not be able to afford coverage in the ACA’s Health Insurance Marketplace.

Increasing opportunities for health coverage in Arizona is particularly important for Latino children. With one out of eight Latino children in Arizona uninsured, or 89,000 children, Arizona has the fourth-highest number of uninsured Latino children in the country, behind only California, Texas, and Florida. Programs like KidsCare are especially meaningful for Latino children and their families. A recent survey of CHIP enrollment numbers in 10 states found that Latino children accounted for more than half of enrollees. In neighboring Nevada, which recently leapfrogged Arizona in the children’s health insurance rankings, more than 75 percent of CHIP enrollees are Latino.

Continue reading

With Gains in Health Coverage, Latino Children also Gain More Equitable Opportunities for Success

By Steven Lopez, Health Policy Project, NCLR and Sonya Scwhartz, Georgetown University Center for Children and Families

Our new report with Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families finds that the uninsured rate for Hispanic kids hit a historic low and the coverage gap between Hispanic kids and their peers narrowed considerably in 2014, the year the Affordable Care Act (ACA) took effect. Credit for this success goes to the ACA, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and actions by states to help connect more Hispanic kids with coverage. historic_low_line  This is great news for Hispanic kids and for our nation as a whole. Hispanic children are a vital part of our nation’s future. They are the fastest-growing segment of the population—growing from one in four children today to one in three children by 2050—and will be our nation’s future doctors, teachers, and workers. A new body of research underscores the importance of affordable, high-quality health coverage during childhood. Having health coverage is linked to school success, better health throughout childhood, and improved financial security for families.

Despite these gains, about 1.7 million Hispanic children still go without health coverage and Hispanic children continue to be more likely to be uninsured than other children. And health coverage inequities for Hispanic children remain. An estimated 9.7% of Hispanic children were uninsured in 2014 compared to 6% of all children. These figures underscore the importance of closing this coverage gap.

eligibility_2_of_3The good news is that we can continue to make a dent in these numbers. Sixty-six percent of uninsured Hispanic children are estimated to be eligible for Medicaid and CHIP but unenrolled. Even though the vast majority (93 percent) of Hispanic children are U.S. citizens, they lag behind other American children when it comes to health insurance because their families face multiple barriers to enrollment. These barriers include language access challenges, worries about immigration-related consequences for their family members, and the complexity of eligibility rules.

In these last weeks of open enrollment for HealthCare.gov and state marketplaces, we families_face_barriershave a great opportunity to reach our community and encourage parents to enroll for coverage along with their children. And we can continue to encourage families to enroll their kids in Medicaid and CHIP all year long. Through these efforts, more Hispanic children will not only gain health coverage but a more equitable opportunity for success in school, work, and as participants in society at large.

success_in_new_yorkShare this information with any families you know who may be eligible for coverage. Remember: open enrollment for the marketplace ends on January 31, but Medicaid and CHIP are open for coverage all year! For more information, visit InsureKidsNow.gov or call (877) KIDS NOW (1-877-543-7669).

There Are Still 45 Days Left to Enroll in Health Coverage!

You may have heard that today, December 15, is the deadline to enroll in health coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that would start on January 1, 2016. Nearly three million people, including one million new consumers, have signed up for health coverage through the federal health insurance marketplace during this enrollment period. Florida leads the charge with 600,000 enrollees, thanks in large part to the hard work of our Affiliates!

2016_Give-the-gift-of-healthcareBut…if you haven’t had a chance to enroll, there’s still time! Whether you are signing up for coverage through the marketplace for the first time or are a returning customer, you still have 45 days to enroll before the January 31 deadline for coverage in 2016.

Health coverage is an important part of ensuring that you and your family stay healthy this year. Having insurance is not just for when you are sick, but can actually help prevent you from becoming sick in the first place. There are now 72 preventive services available free of charge, including screenings for chronic conditions like high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes. By enrolling in coverage, you can invest in the well-being of yourself and your loved ones, and protect your family from unnecessary financial hardship.

If you have not yet gone to the marketplace, it is important to know that financial help is available. Eight out of 10 people who apply for coverage will qualify for financial help through the marketplace, or for free and low-cost coverage through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Last year, those who qualified for financial help received an average tax credit of $270 per month.

If you are a returning consumer, it is also important to understand your 2016 options. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about seven in 10 returning consumers will be able to buy a plan for $75 or less in monthly premiums after tax credits in 2016. So, shop around for health coverage that best fits your needs and your budget!

As you check off your holiday shopping list, make sure to do something for yourself, and head to healthcare.gov or cuidadodesalud.gov to get covered. You can also find local help to answer any questions by visiting localhelp.healthcare.gov or by calling (800) 318-2596.

Five Things Immigrant and Mixed-Status Families Should Know about Enrolling in the ACA

AKA-RegistrationAs open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) gets underway, we know there are people eligible for coverage who remain uninsured and are looking for information and resources to understand their options and get covered.

Immigrants and those living in mixed-status families face unique circumstances and may need additional guidance on how to get coverage for themselves and their loved ones. The good news is that there are resources available to help, and if you or someone you know faced challenges when trying to enroll, we encourage you to return as improvements have been made to the process. Enrollment is now open at healthcare.gov and cuidadodesalud.gov through January 31, 2016.

Here are five things immigrant and mixed-status families—and those assisting them—should know about enrolling in coverage under the ACA:

  1. Immigration information provided on the health application will be used only to verify eligibility for coverage. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has stated it will not use this information for immigration enforcement purposes.
  1. Signing up for insurance through the ACA, Medicaid, or Children’s Health Insurance Program does not make someone a “public charge.” The one exception is for people receiving long-term care in an institution at government expense.
  1. While those without an eligible immigration status cannot get coverage through the ACA, they can apply on behalf of their eligible dependents. An undocumented parent, for example, can apply on behalf of an eligible child. Those who are not applying for coverage for themselves will not be asked if they have an eligible immigration status.
  1. A variety of immigration documents can be used to verify immigration status on the health application. Having this information readily available will help the enrollment process.
  1. Free, in-person assistance is available to help those applying. For information on assistance in your area, visit healthcare.gov or call 1-800-318-2596.

For coverage that begins on January 1, the deadline to enroll is December 15. The opportunity to get covered, however, continues through January 31, 2016. About four million Latinos have already gained health insurance under the ACA—we urge everyone who is eligible to apply!

Get Ready to Get Covered!

Four million Latinos have purchased health insurance through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) since the law’s implementation. Join them by signing up for health coverage so you, too, can get quality affordable health coverage.

IMG_1169This Sunday, November 1 is the start of the third ACA open enrollment period. Sign up for coverage by January 31, 2016 by calling 1-800-318-2596 or visiting www.healthcare.gov or www.cuidadodesalud.gov. Whether you are renewing coverage or getting health insurance for the first time, take the time now to learn about your options and the financial help that may be available.

Here’s how you can get ready to get covered:

  1. Understand your options and choose the health plan that best meets your needs. Check out the benefits and costs of available plans at healthcare.gov or www.cuidadodesalud.gov. You can also find out if you and your children are eligible for free or low-cost coverage through Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
  1. Gather key documents and information before you apply. Several documents—such as a permanent resident card (or green card), a reentry permit or an employment authorization card—can be used to prove immigration status on the health application.
  1. Determine who in your household is applying for coverage. Have information ready for each person, including everyone’s home and mailing addresses. Make a general estimate of your income for the coming year to get an idea of the savings for which you might qualify.
  1. Get one-on-one help. Free local, in-person assistance is available to answer your questions and help you enroll in a health plan. To find out where you can get assistance in your area, call 1-800-318-2596 or visit healthcare.gov.
  1. If you do not have an eligible immigration status and do not qualify for coverage, you can apply on behalf of your eligible dependents. An ineligible parent, for example, can apply on behalf of an eligible child.

Enroll in a health plan by January 31, 2016. Share this information with your family and friends and encourage them to get covered, too! Be prepared and understand your options so you can find the best health care plan for you and your loved ones.

For more information, please visit www.nclr.org/issues/Health/coverage-and-care. NCLR will continue bringing you news and updates on getting covered.