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Request Issued to Extend Federal Children’s Health Insurance Program

DashBoard, Aug. 30, 2017

Earlier this month, MASB partnered with the Michigan Association of School Administrators and Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators to send a letter to Michigan's federal congresspersons and senators urging them to support a full, clean extension of funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program for five years at current funding levels. The text of the letter, coordinated by Wayne RESA, can be read below:

As the statewide associations for Michigan’s school superintendents and school boards, we are writing to urge you to support a full, clean extension of funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program for five years at current funding levels. CHIP has benefitted from strong bipartisan support since its creation in 1997, while providing medical assistance to children who are not eligible for Medicaid. Any delay or a failure to immediately extend funding for this critical program will jeopardize coverage for children who are eligible for school-based, health-related services, leading to immediate and lasting harmful effects for America’s most vulnerable citizens. A lapse in coverage for children places more barriers on their ability to come to school ready to learn. During a time of great uncertainty in the health care system, these children need the consistent, reliable health coverage CHIP provides today.

A school’s primary responsibility is to provide students with a high-quality education. However, children cannot learn to their fullest potential with unmet health needs. As such, school district personnel regularly provide critical health services to ensure that all children are ready to learn and able to thrive alongside their peers. Schools deliver health services effectively and efficiently, since school is where children spend most of their days. The access to health care services that is supported through CHIP improves health care and educational outcomes for students. Providing health and wellness services for students ultimately enables more children to become employable and attend higher education.

In Michigan, we use CHIP funds to extend our Medicaid program, meaning all children who qualify for CHIP receive identical services and benefits as their traditional Medicaid counterparts. School districts depend on CHIP to finance many of these services and have already committed to the staff and contractors they require to provide mandated services for their upcoming 2017-2018 school year.

Michigan schools use Medicaid and CHIP reimbursement funds in a variety of ways to help support the learning and development of the children they serve. In a 2017 survey of school districts, district officials reported that two-thirds of Medicaid dollars are used to support the work of health professionals and other specialized instructional support personnel (e.g., speech language pathologists, audiologists, occupational therapists, school psychologists, school social workers and school nurses) who provide comprehensive health and mental health services to students. Districts also use these funds to expand the availability of a wide range of health and mental health services available to students in poverty, who are more likely to lack consistent access to health care professionals.

The loss of CHIP funds would also hinder many children’s ability to access basic health screenings for vision, hearing and mental health problems, and access to early identification and treatment. Left unaddressed, these challenges or delays undermine children’s ability to learn and make any problems more difficult and expensive to treat later. Loss of CHIP funding would also jeopardize schools’ ability to conduct routine screenings on site, as well as the help to enroll eligible students in Medicaid or other public coverage programs or connect them with needed community-based services.

Congress must act expediently to extend CHIP, so our Michigan school districts have the budget certainty necessary to continue to run CHIP programs and seek necessary reimbursements. We urge you to carefully consider the important benefits that CHIP provides to Michigan’s children.

If you have questions about CHIP or school-based services, feel free to contact any of the statewide associations listed below, your ISD(s) or any of your local districts, as they will be happy to explain.

Sincerely,

MASA, Michigan Association of School Administrators
Chris Wigent, Executive Director

MAISA, Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators
William Miller, Executive Director

MASB, Michigan Association of School Boards
Don Wotruba, Executive Director

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