PA Touts Success of Childrens Health Insurance Program / Public News Service


The Kid’s Health Insurance Program, covering low-income kids across the country, turns 25 in August, but Pennsylvania has had its own “CHIP” even longer – and it was used as a model for the federal program.

CHIP was launched in Pennsylvania five years sooner than the national program. CHIP allows states to cover children when parents cannot afford private medical insurance.

Today, said Antoinette Kraus, executive director of the nonprofit Pennsylvania Health Access Network, about 136,000 children within the Commonwealth are enrolled in CHIP, which is a slight decrease from previous years.

“We expect that is because immediately, we’re still under a Public Health Emergency,” she said, “so a number of kids are enrolled in Medicaid with their families and they cannot be cut off from coverage during this era. So, we expect when the general public health emergency ends, a number of kids will transition from Medicaid to CHIP.”

That is because in Pennsylvania, CHIP can cover any uninsured child who is just not eligible for the state Medical Assistance or Medicaid program. The present end date for the Public Health Emergency is Oct. 13, although there is a probability it could possibly be prolonged.

The Pennsylvania Health Access Network helps families find health services that fit their budget. Kraus said one persistent barrier they see is that folks don’t all the time know the income eligibility requirements for CHIP and assume they cannot afford it.

“But really,” she said, “for folks with very low incomes – in case you’re making between $21,000 and $28,000, and you’ve gotten a child under five, or you are making between $18,000 or $28,000 and your kid is between six and 18 – CHIP is free for them.”

Kraus added that Pennsylvania is seeing one among the bottom rates of uninsured residents in its history, each for adults and youngsters. She credited a mixture of the Reasonably priced Care Act, Medicaid and CHIP. Nonetheless, a report from 2019 showed that 4.6% of youngsters within the state still were uninsured.

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Connecticut ranks among the many top 10 states in offering access to mental health services for its youth population, in response to the newest report from Mental Health America, but advocates said more could possibly be done.

The Kid’s Hospital Association said in 2020, early within the pandemic, there was a 24% increase in mental health emergency department visits for teenagers ages 5-11.

Bob Duncan, chief operating officer for Connecticut Kid’s Medical Center and Health System, said strengthening Medicaid’s mental health investment is required, and the nation needs more providers within the pediatric mental health system.

“We do not have enough psychologists and psychiatrists to fulfill the demand needed,” Duncan observed. “Currently, there are 10 child psychiatrists per 100,000 kids. It’s estimated that we want 47 per 100,000 kids.”

He shared his findings as a part of a coalition which met this month with members of Congress and the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Nonetheless, Duncan thinks the divisive political landscape could stand in the way in which of facing these challenges promptly and agreeing on dollar amounts for funding improvements to the system.

Duncan desires to expand telehealth services as a strategy to reach kids in numerous parts of the state. Within the meantime, he added there are methods for adults to assist the youngsters of their lives.

He beneficial parents develop a relationship with their pediatrician and search out a psychologist, if essential. And he identified parents’ first and most vital step has been available all along: to speak with their children.

“Families have a probability to take time and spend time at home with their kids, and may see a number of the things that their kids could have been battling that — in a typical environment, when the youngsters were in class — they would not have seen,” Duncan noted. “Taking time and creating an environment where kids can check with their parents, to precise what they’re feeling.”

He stays hopeful the general picture for teenagers’ mental health will improve over time, but he acknowledged the stigma persists, and keeps people of all ages from talking openly about mental health.

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The pandemic has had a big impact on young kids’ mental health and on account of long-standing treatment disparities, the mental and emotional recovery for teenagers of color could also be harder than for his or her white counterparts.

A report from Mental Health America (MHA) found white children with depression were more more likely to receive specific mental-health counseling. Students of color, meanwhile, typically either receive no counseling or “non-specialty mental health services.”

Dr. Asha Patton-Smith, a toddler/adolescent psychiatrist with the Mid-Atlantic Permanente Medical Group, said it’s up to folks and caregivers to start out the mental health conversation with their children.

“What I like is absolutely open-ended questions,” Patton-Smith suggested. “Just saying, ‘Hey, you already know, I used to be just noticing you seem a bit of more isolated than usual. Tell me what is going on on.’ The more open-ended, the more you will get a response.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise constructing community connections as a strategy to combat mental-health issues. The Center also recommends schools link students to mental-health services, integrate social and emotional learning and review discipline policies to make sure equitable treatment.

The MHA report noted depression rates are highest amongst multiracial youths, sitting about 4% higher than the common. Patton-Smith said allowing treatment disparities to persist, and leaving mental-health issues untreated, can have long-lasting impacts.

“It increases the likelihood of other mental-health disorders developing,” Patton-Smith emphasized. “Depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, untreated post-traumatic stress disorder. It will possibly increase the likelihood of suicidal ideation or death by suicide.”

In response to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, greater than a 3rd of all highschool students reported persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness in 2019, a pre-pandemic statistic which was already up 40% from 2009. Patton-Smith added Black children and young adults of color also may face entrenched social stigmas around mental health.

“Within the African American community and the Latinx community, we still have an extended strategy to go,” Patton-Smith contended. “There’s still challenges in understanding that depression, anxiety and mood issues aren’t character flaws, they are not personal weaknesses.”

She added combating the stigma begins with conversations about mental health in churches and schools, where having an individual of color involved within the conversation as a counselor or mental-health expert is critical.

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CORRECTION: This story has been updated to incorporate the right link to register for Medicaid in Virginia. (9:40 p.m. ET, Jul 11, 2022)

CORRECTION: The web site where Virginians can register for Medicaid has been corrected. (8:45 p.m. MST, July 11, 2022)

Latest Virginia moms now are eligible for as much as a yr of Medicaid support. It’s a significant expansion of this system, and advocates hope it can help reduce maternal mortality rates.

The new edition of Virginia’s Medicaid program has been within the works for years, and was first approved by state lawmakers in 2020.

Previously, most latest moms were only in a position to draw Medicaid advantages for 2 months after the birth of their child. But Sara Cariano, senior health policy analyst for the Virginia Poverty Law Center, said many postpartum issues take greater than sixty days to look.

“This really goes to boost the care the mom can get, and be sure that – if she does need any form of physical help, behavioral health, even dental health – she doesn’t have interrupted care,” said Cariano. “She will be able to proceed on with the identical provider she had through her pregnancy.”

In response to a 2020 report by Virginia’s Department of Medical Assistance Services, greater than 60% of maternal deaths amongst women with a chronic health issue occur after the 43 day mark. The maternal mortality rate for Black Virginia moms is greater than double the speed of their white counterparts.

Folks can register for Medicaid online at

Cariano said folks who already are enrolled in Medicaid and change into pregnant are robotically enrolled within the 12 month pregnancy support program, and latest moms who lapsed out of the sixty day version of this system, but still fall inside the one-year range, can reapply for advantages.

She said Enroll Virginia, a coalition of community organizations, might help folks navigate the method.

“If someone has applied and is having a difficulty with an application, we also do a number of case help,” said Cariano. “We do a number of helping people navigate what might be a bit of little bit of an advanced process for enrolling.”

As long as they meet income restrictions, all legally residing non-citizens in Virginia are also eligible for this system. Cariano said all moms, no matter immigration status, are eligible for coverage in the course of the pregnancy and for as much as sixty days after the birth of their child.

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