July 1 will be a great day for children living in Florida and Utah as the five-year Medicaid/CHIP waiting period for legal immigrant children will be eliminated. Now 30 states and DC have accepted the Immigrant Children’s Health Improvement Act (ICHIA) option passed into law as part of the reauthorization of CHIP in 2009. (Note: In Florida, coverage for Medicaid-eligible legal immigrant children with incomes below 133 percent of FPL begins July 1, and coverage for children with incomes between 133 and 200 percent of FPL in CHIP begins August 1, after they pay their first month’s premium in July).
This is a significant step forward for children. The fact that states with the fifth (Utah) and sixth (Florida) highest uninsured rates for children, and fairly conservative leadership, found a way forward to help legal immigrant children gives us all something to celebrate this Independence Day.
As we have blogged about previously, the persistence of children’s advocates combined with the enhanced federal funding offered to states through CHIP – which brings the federal match rate up to 96 percent in Florida and up to 100 percent in Utah – helped make this breakthrough possible. This is a very hopeful sign for immigrant communities and children as we all wait with bated breathe to see which state will step up to the plate next to remove the five-year wait.
To learn more about how Florida and Utah got to yes on the ICHIA option, read the blogs by Diana Ragbeer of the Children’s Trust and Joan Alker and Sonya Schwartz of CCF. Also, check out our ICHIA fact sheet.