Through passage of programs like Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), advocates are making it possible for families to achieve financial security without sacrificing essential health coverage.
Twelve-year-old Torian doesn’t like to sit still. His severe asthma keeps him from playing sports, so he is usually found zooming around on his hoverboard. His mother, Amber, never expected to see Torian moving so fast when he was diagnosed with asthma at age five. Torian takes four daily medications to keep his asthma at bay—the cost of which used to rival Amber’s monthly grocery bill.
But thanks to the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)—called Healthy Start in Ohio—Torian has access to quality, comprehensive health coverage. That means all Torian’s preventative care and prescriptions are covered, and Amber’s family no longer struggles each month under the massive weight of medical bills. Healthy Start has given Amber the financial freedom to go back to school to earn her degree in social work. She now has a job at a local nonprofit, and has achieved her dream of helping others in her community and providing financial security for her and her family.
Healthy Start is a critical piece of the equation when it comes to keeping Ohio’s 2.6 million children healthy. Every day, a bipartisan advocacy organization called Voices for Ohio’s Children works with policymakers on both sides of the aisle and in-state and national partners to preserve programs like CHIP for kids like Torian who need them most. CHIP helps families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but don’t have access to affordable coverage. CHIP, along with Medicaid, it has reduced the uninsured rate among America’s children to the lowest number in history.
Voices for Ohio’s Children knows that children with access to health coverage are more likely to attend school and stay focused on learning, while uninsured children are five times more likely to have a delayed or unmet medical, dental, or vision need. Health insurance plays a critical role in making sure every kid is healthy and gets a strong start in life. And as Torian’s story shows, the benefits of health coverage for children extend to the classroom, enabling kids to spend more time in school and less time homesick.
Even with Ohio’s rate of uninsured children at an historic low, the work continues. More than 126,000 children in the state remain uninsured and securing coverage for these kids remains a priority for Voices for Ohio’s Children.
In 2015—the last time CHIP funding was up for renewal—Voices for Ohio’s Children took action by supporting nonpartisan education and open discourse to help public officials understand and embrace the benefits of health care coverage for children. Voices for Ohio’s Children shared stories of mothers in Ohio, like Amber, who were able to provide appropriate care for their children thanks to the program. The organization released reports, held press conferences, shared information on social media, and guided nonpartisan conversations with the governor of Ohio and state representatives to highlight the positive impact of CHIP. When the time came to vote on CHIP funding in Washington, legislators across the aisle voted nearly unanimously to continue the program.
“Our success with CHIP shows when you provide realistic solutions, people will support them,” says Brandi Slaughter, CEO of Voices for Ohio’s Children. “We’ve made progress on children’s health in Ohio because our organization is credible; we are authentic; we are team players.”
Recent data show the national insurance rate for children is currently nearly 95 percent, the highest in history. Together CHIP and Medicaid have made high-quality, cost-effective health care possible for millions of children. Organizations are now looking ahead so they can protect and build on this foundation for good health and successful learning. By continuing this work, they hope to secure healthcare coverage for all children.
To learn more about Voices for Ohio’s Children, visit http://www.raiseyourvoiceforkids.org.