Advocacy Update: Celebrating 10 Years of Apple Health for Kids; Urging Congress to Extend CHIP

Ten years ago, child health advocates, health care providers, legislators, families and community leaders celebrated the passage of “Cover All Kids,” a landmark step toward the goal of providing health coverage for all of Washington’s children through Apple Health for Kids. Last week, they gathered at the New Holly Gathering Hall to celebrate 10 years of Apple Health for Kids helping children grow and stay healthy.

“When we keep kids healthy we give them an opportunity to grow and thrive,” said Speaker Frank Chopp. “Kids who have their health care needs met do better in school and are more likely to graduate. Parents miss fewer days at work and families are more financially stable when they have access to the quality, affordable health care Apple Health for Kids provides.”

Apple Health for Kids is a solution unique to Washington State, using the federal programs Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to finance care for children in families with incomes below 300% of the federal poverty level under one umbrella program. Thanks to these programs working together, the number of kids in Washington without health insurance is the lowest in history.

Apple Health for Kids has been incredibly successful at providing high-quality, cost-effective health care for millions of children. In fact, two in five Washington children are covered by Medicaid or CHIP through Apple Health for Kids, which means that nearly everyone in Washington has a family member, friend or acquaintance covered by this program. Learn more about the history of Cover All Kids and the success of Apple Health for Kids here.

Extend CHIP

Despite the program’s success, Apple Health for Kids is at risk. CHIP funding is critical to Washington State’s ability to cover all kids, but Congress failed to extend the funding. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the CHAMPIONING HEALTHY KIDS Act of 2017 late last week.  While the bill includes sound policy that pediatricians support – including extending CHIP for five years, stabilizing enrollment, and preserving current funding levels through 2019 – it is paid for in a way that may harm children’s health. Specifically, the bill cuts the Prevention and Public Health Fund, makes risky changes to Medicaid financing and puts in place new barriers for families to access affordable health care coverage in the private marketplace. Here is the AAP’s statement.

While the Senate will likely take up the strong reauthorization provisions of the core program, we expect the Senate to propose different ways of financing the reauthorization.

Be an advocate!

We will need to continue to be sure our congressional delegation knows how important this issue is for child health, so they can share with their peers how many Washingtonians are behind them.

Please contact Senators Murray and Cantwell by clicking here to use our new advocacy platform . This is also a perfect time to install our new app to advocate for kids right from your smartphone or tablet. Instructions on how to download the app can be found here.