The Children’s Health Insurance Program is a program jointly funded by states and the federal government and run by states to cover uninsured children based on income. CHIP currently provides health coverage for 8.9 million children in America and more than 2 million children and pregnant women in California over the course of a year (1.4 million at any given time). In California, children in families with incomes between 138% and 266% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL, $33,354 – $65,436 a year for a family of 4) are income eligible for CHIP. CHIP sits on the shoulders of Medicaid, which provides health coverage to children with family incomes of 138% FPL or less. In California, CHIP enrollees are part of the state’s Medicaid program, which is known as Medi-Cal.
Developed as a state-federal partnership that gives governors broad flexibility to design their programs to target the needs of their child populations, states can either develop their own standalone CHIP program or roll their CHIP population into Medicaid where they are subject to Medicaid protections, as California does. CHIP has strong bipartisan roots and support, and continues to be popular among policymakers and the public. Working together, Medicaid and CHIP provide affordable, comprehensive health coverage for 45 million children in America – and 5.7 million in California – enabling poor and lower income children to maximize their health and development.