February 23, 2015

Media Contacts:
Kathy Fackelmann, GW; 202-994-8354
Susan Lamontagne, RCHN CHF; 631-899-3825 

Children’s Health Insurance Program and Community Health Centers Closely Linked, Vulnerable to Cuts

WASHINGTON, D.C. and NEW YORK  (February 23, 2015)—As Congress debates whether to extend funding for the state-federal Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), a new issue brief examines the number of CHIP enrollees served by community health centers and finds that while health centers serve people enrolled in CHIP in most states, the connection between health centers and CHIP beneficiaries is especially strong in certain states including Alaska, South Dakota, West Virginia, New Jersey, Colorado, and New York—states where health centers serve large numbers of CHIP enrollees.

The analysis, carried out by researchers at the Geiger Gibson/RCHN Community Health Foundation Research Collaborative at Milken Institute School of Public Health (Milken Institute SPH) at the George Washington University, shows that health centers served over 350,000 CHIP beneficiaries in 2013, one in twenty-five CHIP beneficiaries that year.  In certain states however, community health centers cared for anywhere from 10 to 38 percent of patients enrolled in CHIP.

“In some states, health centers and CHIP are highly intertwined,” said Sara Rosenbaum, JD, the Harold and Jane Hirsh Professor of Health Law and Policy at Milken Institute SPH and a co-author of the analysis. “This is especially true in states with extremely medically underserved areas such as Alaska, South Dakota, and West Virginia. The evidence also suggests that health centers may be the most important for the lowest income CHIP beneficiaries who depend on Medicaid a portion of each year because of modest fluctuations in income.”

In certain states, according to the issue brief, CHIP coverage is derived through a Medicaid expansion. In these situations, health centers appear to play an especially important role. For example, in North Carolina, health centers served more than 4,300 enrollees whose CHIP coverage was through Medicaid, but only 31 enrollees covered under the state’s separate CHIP program. Similar patterns can be seen in Arkansas, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, South Dakota, Virginia and Washington.

“In all states, CHIP is central to health centers’ ability to ensure quality appropriate care for patients. Conversely, health centers play a vital role for families who depend on CHIP, especially the poorest and most medically underserved families,” said Feygele Jacobs, president and CEO of the RCHN Community Health Foundation, which funded the analysis.

Congress is now considering whether to extend funding for CHIP as well as whether to continue sustained funding for health centers, which have used an additional investment in grant support under the Affordable Care Act to reach millions of additional patients. The Geiger Gibson/RCHN Community Health Foundation analysis, “Community Health Centers and Their Role for Patients Enrolled in the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP),” is available online.

The Geiger Gibson/RCHN Community Health Foundation Research Collaborative in Community Health Policy, established in 2003 and named after human rights and health center pioneers Drs. H. Jack Geiger and Count Gibson, is part of the School of Public Health and Health Services at The George Washington University. It focuses on the history and contributions of health centers and the major policy issues that affect health centers, their communities, and the patients that they serve. Learn more at http://sphhs.gwu.edu/projects/geiger-gibson-program. 

The RCHN Community Health Foundation is a not-for-profit operating foundation established to support community health centers through strategic investment, outreach, education, and cutting-edge health policy research. The only foundation in the U.S. dedicated solely to community health centers, RCHN CHF builds on a long-standing commitment to providing accessible, high-quality, community-based healthcare services for underserved and medically vulnerable populations. The Foundation’s gift to the Geiger Gibson program supports health center research and scholarship. For more information, visit www.rchnfoundation.org.

About Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University:
Established in July 1997 as the School of Public Health and Health Services, Milken Institute School of Public Health is the only school of public health in the nation’s capital. Today, nearly 1,534 students from almost every U.S. state and more than 45 countries pursue undergraduate, graduate and doctoral-level degrees in public health. The school also offers an online Master of Public Health, MPH@GW, and an online Executive Master of Health Administration, MHA@GW, which allow students to pursue their degree from anywhere in the world.