Kids Shouldn’t Have to Wait for Health Coverage

/, Health care, Medicaid & CHIP, Texas Legislature/Kids Shouldn’t Have to Wait for Health Coverage
Melissa McChesney

Today Texas law requires that a child must be without private health coverage for 90 days prior to enrolling in the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), known as a CHIP waiting period. Once a child is found otherwise eligible for CHIP, they must wait to enroll for three months after the last month they had private health coverage. There are exemptions to the CHIP waiting period required by Texas statute and federal standards.

When CHIP was created in 1997, waiting periods were established by many states to help reduce “crowd out,” or the substitution of CHIP for private health insurance. However, recent changes in federal policies and required processes have caused 21 states to eliminate their CHIP waiting periods. Currently, 33 states do not impose waiting periods and 6 states impose them only in higher income brackets.

Two bills filed during the 84th Regular Legislative Session propose changes to the waiting period for CHIP in Texas. H.B. 1339, by Representative Roland Gutierrez, proposes to reduce the waiting period to 30 days. S.B. 847 by Senator José Rodriguez and Senator Judith Zaffirini, eliminates the waiting period altogether.

A new CPPP brief covers the basics of the laws, policy, and effects of the CHIP waiting period on Texan children. The brief identifies the costs to the state and risks to children which result from requiring a CHIP waiting period.

Reducing the waiting period to 30 days only shortens the window before eligible children can enroll in CHIP. Children are still left without affordable health care coverage during that month and this approach does nothing to eliminate the administrative complexities and costs of maintaining the waiting period.

Based on the cost to the state, risks for children, and lack of compelling evidence of the effectiveness of the policy, CPPP and the Texas CHIP Coalition support eliminating the waiting period altogether.

At the Center for Public Policy Priorities, we believe in a Texas that offers everyone the chance to compete and succeed in life. We envision a Texas where everyone is healthy, well-educated, and financially secure. We want the best Texas - a proud state that sets the bar nationally by expanding opportunity for all. CPPP is an independent public policy organization that uses data and analysis to advocate for solutions that enable Texans of all backgrounds to reach their full potential. We dare Texas to be the best state for hard-working people and their families.

1 Comment

  • It’s unfortunate that children have to wait to receive health insurance from the state. Even if it’s a financial burden, I think it’s important that they’re receiving coverage—they’re the future of our country; let’s keep them healthy! I wonder what Texas plans on doing to implement a more inclusive insurance plan.

    Alex Jennings |

    Alex Jennings 21.05.2015

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