Back in 2009, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst made an emphatic endorsement for increasing the number of children enrolled in the Children’s Health Insurance Program. “If I had a magic wand, I’d get them all enrolled in the CHIP program,” he said. “Why? I think that at the end of the day, it’s the moral thing to do and, in the long run, the most economical thing to do.”
The moral and economic incentives to enroll as many children as possible are there for both the moderate-income children who qualify for CHIP and lower-income kids eligible for Children’s Medicaid. Both CHIP and Medicaid help children hit important developmental milestones, so they enter school ready to learn. Having insurance also helps kids get check-ups and treatment they need and supports families by staving off bankruptcies that can come from unexpected medical expenses. Improved coverage is important for communities, too, since reducing the number of uninsured brings down costs that otherwise get passed along to everyone. Many Texans pay higher premiums and more for health services due to uncompensated care from fellow Texans, including kids, who are uninsured.
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Travis is a policy fellow at Texans Care for Children.