We and others have already reported that Washington state’s Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) allotment from the federal government is getting bumped up by about $14 million a year, giving the state access to an estimated $94 million each year.
While great news for kids, CHIP isn’t just about the allotment.
For years Washington hasn’t been able to use a lot of the money we were allotted. Under the old rules Washington had a bank account that it couldn't withdraw all of its money from. Changes in the CHIP law mean Washington should be able to pull in as much as $140 million more federal money for children's health care over the next 3 years.
The CHIP law also includes performance bonuses for states that are able to make substantial inroads in covering uninsured children who are eligible for Apple Health for Kids. To get that money, though, the state will have to streamline enrollment, which is something our legislature is considering this session.
Additionally, the CHIP law includes money for outreach in the form of grants to states, local governments and other organizations to conduct outreach campaigns.
Added up, CHIP means more than $14 million a year, giving Washington the opportunity to use some of the savings from the infusion of CHIP cash to realize another important goal: Making sure insured kids can get in to see a doctor. Right now, the reimbursement rates doctors have to accept are so low that many have to limit the number of Apple Health for Kids patients they see.
The details are nicely explained in a new report from the Center for Children and Families and Georgetown University called “The Impact of CHIP Reauthorization on Washington State.”