Health Groups Press for Senate Passage of Build Back Better

Advocates Cite Provisions to Keep Kids Enrolled in Medi-Cal, CHIP
Research shows that only 50% of kids who experience a gap in coverage in a given year will see a doctor. Photo Credit: Drazen / Adobestock

Suzanne Potter
California News Service

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Children’s advocacy groups are calling on senators to pass the Build Back Better Act, saying it will protect millions of children from losing their health coverage via the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and Medicaid, or Medi-Cal as it is known here.

The bill would make low-income kids across the country eligible for 12 months of continuous coverage.

Kristen Golden Testa, health director for the Children’s Partnership, said it is crucial to provide everyone equal access to health care.

“Medi-Cal is the primary source of coverage for children of color,” Testa pointed out. “Medi-Cal is equity. It is where you can really make a difference in children’s lives.”

Opponents say the country cannot afford the $2 trillion Build Back Better bill. California already offers kids 12 months of continuous coverage, but in April, when the official public-health emergency period ends, states will start disenrolling people who do not respond to renewal notices.

Build Back Better protects families by requiring the state to work with insurers and other benefit programs to track families down and verify eligibility.

Joan Alker, executive director of the Center for Children and Families, recently wrote a brief explaining the implications of the Build Back Better bill.

She said it is designed to claw back gains the country made during the Obama administration.

“After we saw this troubling reverse in the progress we’d made as a country in reducing the number of uninsured kids — which came to a halt in 2017 and started going in the wrong direction — the Build Back Better bill would really turn that around and start moving the country in the right direction,” Alker contended.

The bill would also permanently reauthorize the CHIP program to stop it from becoming a political issue every few years when it is up for renewal.