FEWER KIDS IN CHIP SHOULD BE GOOD NEWS
April 25, 2006
Before Texans become convinced that declining enrollment in the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is due to heartless conservatives, draconian public policy or a privatization effort gone awry, they deserve a more thoughtful look at the many factors that contribute to these changes, says Mary Katherine Stout, director of Center for Health Care Policy Studies at the Texas Public Policy Foundation.
- The Texas economy is strong and growing stronger, doubtlessly improving the lives of thousands of Texas families; the Texas Workforce Commission reported that February 2006 was the 17th consecutive month of job growth, adding 25,400 jobs in the state.
- These increases in employment have a ripple effect throughout government programs; employment gains may result in increases in a family's income, as well as access to employer-provided or employer-subsidized health insurance.
- Even as some families have left the rolls entirely, fueling the recent decline in total enrollment, new families are making use of the program when they need it; according to figures posted on the Texas Health and Human Services Commission's Web site, there were almost 29,500 new CHIP enrollees for April -- the highest number of new enrollees in any month since January 2003.
And what to make of those families leaving CHIP? In almost every month over the last four-and-a-half-years, data from the state indicate that the most common reason for leaving CHIP is simply the failure to re-enroll. Second is the determination that a child's family is no longer eligible for the program, says Stout.
Source: Mary Katherine Stout, "Fewer Kids In CHIP Should Be Good News," Dallas Morning News, April 24, 2006.
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