Republicans Seek To Cut Funding For Program That Has Insured An Extra 1.1 Million Children

Last week, Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee voted to slash $400 million from a program that would offer states performance bonuses if they enrolled more children in CHIP or Medicaid. Twenty-three states have already taken advantage of those bonuses, including 16 that increased their enrollment by more than 10 percent.

A new analysis released today looks at how those bonuses have increased enrollment nationwide. The study from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families examined the 23 states that received performance bonuses for enrolling more children, and found that this program has already had better-than-expected effects:

Data on the bonuses show that in the 23 states that received bonuses in FY 2011, an additional 1.1 million kids were enrolled above expected levels. The most (123,000) can be found in the state of Ohio. While we can’t say that the bonuses fully explain this jump in enrollment, it would certainly be fair to say that they get some of the credit for supporting states in reaching these kids.

As we’ve seen over the years, Medicaid and CHIP have been responsible for driving the uninsured rate of children down to record lows. These bonuses have been an important incentive in making this progress and dismantling them threatens to undercut the great success we’ve seen in Medicaid and CHIP.

Over 12 million children were enrolled in the program in all 23 states combined. Altogether, those states boosted their enrollment numbers 10 percent higher than the expected level, and earned close to $300 million in bonus money for doing so. Thanks in large part to CHIP, the rate of uninsured children is at the lowest-recorded level ever.


As ThinkProgress reported yesterday, the cuts are not expected to pass the Senate this time around, but there is worry among children’s health advocates that they may be reintroduced at a later date. President Obama’s recent budget proposal did call for a change in the federal matching rates for CHIP beginning in 2017.

-Zachary Bernstein