U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra celebrated the Children’s Health Insurance Program’s (CHIP’s) 24th anniversary on August 4, 2021, a program that “for more than two decades, has been a lifeline for millions of children and families across America,” with an incredible announcement: in 2020 and 2021, CHIP provided more than 6.8 million enrolled individuals with coverage during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

“I was proud to work on passing the bipartisan CHIP in Congress in 1997,” Becerra said. “Along with Medicare and Medicaid, CHIP has kept children and families out of poverty and continues to provide the peace of mind to parents who know their children have access to quality health care they need.”

CHIP provides health coverage to eligible children whose families earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid through each state’s Medicaid program and separate CHIP programs. While benefits are different in each state, comprehensive coverage, including routine check-ups, immunizations, emergency services, and more, is provided. March 2021 CHIP enrollment data indicate:

  • 81,698,467 individuals were enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP in the 50 states and Washington, DC, that reported enrollment data.
    • 674,863,883 individuals were enrolled in Medicaid.
    • 6,834,584 individuals were enrolled in CHIP.
  • 38,716,614 individuals were enrolled in CHIP or were children enrolled in the Medicaid program in the 49 states and Washington, DC, that reported child enrollment data for March 2021, representing 48.6% of total Medicaid and CHIP enrollment. (Arizona did not report figures.)

Programs like CHIP are lifelines for families and children experiencing financial toxicities and struggling to access quality health care, especially during the pandemic. Nurses have a responsibility to educate patients on healthcare coverage and Medicaid resources. ONS members can help eliminate health inequities and advocate for equal access to health care through the ONS Center for Advocacy and Health Policy.