Millions of Low-Income Families Who Need Medicaid and SCHIP Are Ineligible for Benefits

Millions of Low-Income Families Who Need Medicaid and SCHIP Are Ineligible for Benefits

Center for Economic Policy Research Press Release, Sept. 25, 2007

Washington DC: Just over half of people (53%) living in low-income families in nine states and the District of Columbia are eligible for neither Medicaid nor the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), according to a multi-year, multi-state research project led by the Center for Economic and Policy Research and the Center for Social Policy at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

The new data from the Bridging the Gaps (BTG) project are being released as Congress debates increasing funding for SCHIP, a move which President Bush has threatened to veto. A key issue in the debate is whether states should allow families with income above 200% of the poverty threshold to be eligible for SCHIP. The data released today show that the current eligibility rules leave over half of low-income families ineligible.

The BTG Project mapped the detailed state-level Medicaid and SCHIP eligibility rules onto government survey data. The study finds that while eligibility varies across states, no state covers more than 80 percent of those in need.

“Across the country, many working families do not receive health insurance from their employer, but earn too much to qualify for Medicaid and SCHIP,” said Heather Boushey, one of the study’s authors. “The data show that for these families, Medicaid and SCHIP can really make a difference.”

The study defines a low-income family as one living below a basic family budget. These budgets tally up what it costs in different places across the country to cover the basics: housing, health care, child care, transportation, taxes, and other essentials for particular family sizes.

More results are available now, and the full results of the Bridging the Gaps study will be released October 10th.

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