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Continuous CHIP eligibility could keep more KY kids covered

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The federal health insurance program for children helps keep more than 620,000 Kentucky kids insured.

A new report finds that CHIP, which marks its 25th anniversary this week, is a lifeline for families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but don't have access to employer-sponsored coverage.

Emily Beauregard, executive director of Kentucky Voices for Health, said an emergency provision enacted during the pandemic has meant kids relying on CHIP had quality health care, no matter what their parents' changes in jobs or income.

"When your income changes from month to month, or if it's seasonal because you're perhaps a farmer," she said, "then you're more likely to have times when your income goes just above the limit - and then other times when you're below the limit."

Beauregard said the Public Health Emergency declaration is set to expire in October. The federal government has said it will give states at least 60 days notice of a final deadline, so agencies can began reaching out to families to ensure kids don't fall through the coverage gap.

Beauregard added that the state could make 12-month continuous eligibility permanent, which she believes would reduce costs down the road.

"It leads to healthier kids, but it's also less costly administratively," she said. "And over time, kids are healthier because they have coverage constantly."

Beauregard pointed out that CHIP and Medicaid covers more than half the nation's Black and Hispanic children, and said increasing awareness about upcoming changes and re-enrollment in these populations is critical, as well as ensuring lasting federal funding for the program.

"All of these are ways that we can make sure that kids are their healthiest," she said.

Research shows that kids who have CHIP coverage see their doctor and dentist regularly, and are less likely to visit an emergency room.

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Written by Nadia Ramlagan for KY News Service.

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