Future of Children's Health Insurance Program Unclear

Future of Children's Health Insurance Program Unclear

With the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) scheduled to expire on September 30, a new report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation finds that as many as 6.6 million vulnerable children — the number of children covered by SCHIP during 2006 — could lose coverage should Congress and the White House not agree on reauthorization and funding for the program.

The report, Protecting America's Future: A State-by-State Look at SCHIP & Uninsured Kids (11 pages, PDF), found a 24 percent decrease in uninsured children in the United States since SCHIP was signed into law in 1997. The report also found that uninsured children are more than three times less likely than insured children to visit a doctor in the course of a year, while 54 percent of uninsured children did not have a "well-child" checkup in the past year, compared to only 25 percent of insured children.

In addition to the 6.6 million children who stand to lose their coverage, the report estimates that there are millions of others who are eligible for the program but are not yet enrolled. While both the House and Senate have approved bills that would provide funding to cover more SCHIP-eligible children, talk of a presidential veto now threatens the future of the program.

"The success of SCHIP over the past decade has been a rare piece of good news on the healthcare front," said RWJF president and CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey. "People from diverse political backgrounds strongly support the program, because it is a much needed safety net for uninsured children. This highly successful partnership between federal and state government needs to continue its good work and cover more kids."