Policy Analysis | October 2009

Southern States' SCHIP Programs

The federal State Children's Health Insurance Program(SCHIP) was created in 1997 to provide health insurance to children of working families with incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid, but too low to afford insurance, in all 50 U.S. states. At the time, it was the single largest expansion of taxpayer-funded insurance coverage for children in the United States since the inception of the Medicaid program during the 1960s.The program is administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and approximately 73 percent of the funding for the program comes from the federal government. In 2006, the program covered around 6.6 million children nationally, with some states having designed policies that extended eligibility for some parents of children receiving benefits as well as pregnant women and other adults. The most recent reauthorization of SCHIP by Congress was in February of this year. There are currently 9 million children in the United States without health insurance.

Since the program has proven to encourage people to continue working while alleviating the pressure to find insurance for children of working families, many states have raised the threshold for eligibility in recent years. When the program began, most Southern states set the qualifying ceiling to correspond with the federal poverty level (FPL), i.e., at 100percent of the FPL. The map below illustrates where these eligibility requirements stand today, as well as the number of individuals covered by SCHIP in each of the SLC states. It also indicates the type of SCHIP program administered in each state: entirely separate from Medicaid (s); a combined program with Medicaid (c); or an expansion of Medicaid (e).

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Foundation for Health Coverage Education