In a recent letter from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), state health officials were reminded they must provide “12 months of continuous coverage for children under the age of 19 on Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) beginning January 1, 2024.” The letter served to reinforce the mandatory coverage requirement, ensuring that children enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP will have access to the healthcare that they need.
HHS Secretary, Xavier Becerra, said, "Children should always have access to healthcare services. No exceptions. Thanks to the actions taken by the Biden-Harris Administration, states must provide all children with Medicaid and CHIP continuous coverage for 12 months. This important action will ensure children have access to the preventative and primary care they need to be healthy and thrive. We will continue to support children and their families, whenever and however it is needed.”
CMS Administrator, Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, added, “CMS continues to work to increase access to healthcare services for children in ways that reduce disparities and build a reliable health safety net for every young person. Families of children enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP will have peace of mind knowing their children will have uninterrupted access to healthcare coverage for a year, regardless of any changes in their family’s financial circumstances.”
Research shows that “ensuring 12 months of uninterrupted health coverage for children promotes access to appropriate preventive and primary care, necessary treatment for healthcare needs that may arise, and continuity of care.” In addition, children who are disenrolled for all or part of the year are “more likely to have only fair or poor health status compared to children who have health coverage continuously throughout the year.”
The HHS letter offers background on the importance of continuous coverage, and describes policies related to implementing continuous coverage for children as required by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023. The letter also reminds states that they may request section 1115 demonstration authority under the Social Security Act to “extend the continuous coverage period for children beyond 12 months, and to adopt continuous coverage for adults eligible for Medicaid.”