Utah Governor Jon Huntsman today called upon the United States Congress to reauthorize the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in a timely manner so children in Utah may receive the medical coverage they need. CHIP provides states with federal matching funds to cover uninsured children whose parents can't afford private insurance, but earn too much to qualify for Medicaid.
"Our children are our greatest asset, and we can't afford to miss this important investment in their future," said Gov. Huntsman. "Uninsured children don't receive the preventive care they need, which can affect their quality of life. Children with access to adequate health care lead healthier lives, perform better in school, and are more likely to succeed in life."
Despite Utah's healthy economy, a growing number of Utah residents lack health insurance, and a disproportionate number of the uninsured are children. Fortunately, many of these children have been able to access medical care through CHIP; saving taxpayer money by reducing uncompensated care costs in emergency rooms and other health facilities.
Since its inception a decade ago, more than 110,000 children in Utah have received medical care under CHIP. Despite the success of the program, the Utah Department of Health estimates another 45,200 eligible Utah children are not currently enrolled in CHIP. On July 2, CHIP will re-open enrollment giving even more uninsured Utah children access to health insurance
Huntsman called upon Congress to reauthorize the program with the following priorities in mind:
* Reauthorization must occur in a timely manner
* Children must be the primary focus of the program
* Federal funding must be sufficient to cover low-income, uninsured children
* States must be given the flexibility to ensure the program's success
* States should develop appropriate quality measures to ensure children receive quality health care through the program
"I am committed to working with Senator Hatch, who was instrumental in creating CHIP, and the other members of our Congressional delegation to reauthorize the program as soon as possible to avoid unnecessary and potentially harmful disruptions to the well being of our children," Huntsman said.
According to a recent survey conducted by Dan Jones & Associates, Utah residents overwhelmingly support the CHIP program. When polled, 88 percent of Utahns agreed that helping children's health through the CHIP program is a responsible investment in Utah's future.