Monday, January 26, 2009

SCHIP Provides Health Coverage to 7.4 Million Children in 2008

Some 7.4 million children were enrolled in the State Children's Health
Insurance Program (SCHIP) in 2008 -- a four percent increase over the
previous year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
announced today. The announcement comes as Congress is debating
reauthorization of SCHIP, which is projected to expand coverage to an
additional four million children.

"With unemployment numbers rising and the economy struggling to regain
momentum, more and more American families are relying on SCHIP to insure
their children get the health coverage they need," said Acting HHS
Secretary Charles Johnson. "It is no surprise that SCHIP enrollment
went up in 2008 and we expect this trend to continue well into 2009 if
the program is reauthorized."

Created in 1997, SCHIP is a state and federal partnership designed to
help uninsured children. SCHIP received $40 billion in federal funds
over 10 years through 2007. The Medicare, Medicaid and SCHIP Extension
Act of 2007 extended the program until March 31, 2009, with an
appropriation of $5 billion for each of fiscal years 2008 and 2009, with
fiscal year 2009 funding available only through March 31, 2009. The
legislation also provided $1.6 billion in funding for states with SCHIP
budget shortfalls for fiscal year 2008 and $275 million for state
shortfalls through the first two quarters of fiscal year 2009.

Enrollment data, compiled by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid
Services (CMS), and based on state reports, show that 7.4 million
children were enrolled in SCHIP at some point during federal fiscal year
(FFY) 2008, compared to 7.1 million for fiscal 2007. During FFY 2008,
334,616 adults were covered with SCHIP funds.

"While more children are relying on the program, we know millions more
children need health care coverage and that is why we need a strong
SCHIP to meet the nation's growing need," said Acting Secretary Johnson.
"President Obama believes that healthy children are the key to a healthy
economy and a healthy future for our country. We look forward to
working closely with Congress to reauthorize SCHIP and to working with
the States to do every thing we can to enroll every eligible child in
the program."

The SCHIP targets uninsured children who live in families with incomes
generally around 200 percent of the federal poverty level ($42,000 for a
family of four in 2008), which is too high in most states to qualify for
Medicaid, but in many cases, too low to afford private coverage.

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