The State Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is a means-tested program that provides health coverage to targeted low-income children and pregnant women in families that have annual income above Medicaid eligibility levels but have no health insurance. CHIP is jointly financed by the federal government and states, and the states are responsible for administering CHIP. In FY2013, CHIP enrollment totaled 8.4 million individuals and CHIP expenditures totaled $13.2 billion.
Congress has begun discussing alternative policy options to address the future of the CHIP program because federal funding for CHIP is set to end after FY2015, even though the program is still authorized. With the current fiscal year being the final year federal CHIP funding is provided in statute, Congress's action or inaction on the CHIP program may affect health insurance options and resulting coverage for targeted low-income children that are eligible for the current CHIP program.
Under the current CHIP program, the federal government sets basic requirements for CHIP, but states have the flexibility to design their own version of CHIP within the federal government's basic framework. As a result, there is significant variation across CHIP programs. Currently, state upper-income eligibility limits for children range from a low of 175% of the federal poverty level (FPL) to a high of 405% of FPL. States may also extend CHIP coverage to pregnant women when certain conditions are met.
States may design their CHIP programs in three ways: a CHIP Medicaid expansion, a separate CHIP program, or a combination approach where the state operates a CHIP Medicaid expansion and one or more separate CHIP programs concurrently. CHIP benefit coverage and cost-sharing rules depend on program design. CHIP Medicaid expansions must follow the federal Medicaid rules for benefits and cost sharing, which entitles CHIP enrollees to Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment (EPSDT) coverage (effectively eliminating any state-defined limits on the amount, duration, and scope of any benefit listed in Medicaid statute) and exempts the majority of children from any cost sharing. For separate CHIP programs, the benefits are permitted to look more like private health insurance, and states may impose cost sharing, such as premiums or enrollment fees, with a maximum allowable amount that is tied to annual family income.
The federal government reimburses states for a portion of every dollar they spend on CHIP
(including both CHIP Medicaid expansions and separate CHIP programs) up to state-specific annual limits called allotments. The federal share of FY2013 total expenditures was $9.2 billion and the state share was $4.0 billion.
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