A Healthy Blog

Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

Children’s Health: Scattered Thoughts from DC

Children’s Health: Scattered Thoughts from DC

March 31, 2009

This past Sunday and Monday, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the Georgetown Center for Children and Families gathered advocates from around the country to discuss the recently-passed Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA). The new law will be a major step forward in providing health coverage to millions of children who are currently uninsured.

The conference itself was jam-packed with information, but here are some significant take-aways:

  • Although everyone would like to see CHIPRA implemented as soon as possible, there have been delays as the new HHS secretary and CMS director have yet to be confirmed by the Senate. As soon as those posts are filled, expect RFRs and regulatory guidances to be issued quickly.
  • States have an opportunity to get an enhanced federal matching rate if they enroll more eligible kids into CHIP. However, to even be eligible for this higher rate, each state must adopt a series of administrative streamlining regulations, including establishing 12 month continuous eligibility under both Medicaid and CHIP. HCFA and the Children’s Health Access Coalition are supporting legislation that would make exactly this change.
  • Massachusetts stands to see significant cost savings due to the removal of the 5 year waiting period for legal immigrant children. Massachusetts already covers these children using state funds through the Children’s Medical Security Plan (CMSP), but according to EOHHS, there will be an estimated 500 children who will now be CHIP-eligible when the state takes up this option. In these difficult fiscal times, every dollar saved is important.
  • CHIPRA doesn’t just provide health coverage – it also attempts to improve child health quality. According to a 2007 New England Journal of Medicine article, only 53% of children received appropriate care for chronic medical conditions, 41% received adequate preventive care, and 68% got treatment for acute medical problems. CHIPRA contains $225 million in funding specifically targeted toward child health quality initiatives. We have a real chance to make significant improvements not only in health access, but also on health outcomes.

The conference was too full to allow for sight-seeing, but I am pleased to report that the Cherry Blossoms on Haines Point appear to be on schedule to bloom just in time for next weekend’s Cherry Blossom Festival – at least that’s how they looked out the window of the Metro …
Matt Noyes