Eliminate the 5-Year Wait

16 December 2015 Written by  

Remove Barriers to Care for
Lawfully Residing Immigrant 

Children and Pregnant Women

In Utah, lawfully residing immigrant children and pregnant women are subject to a 5-year waiting period before they qualify for CHIP or Medicaid. However, the 2009 Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA) gives states the option to expand insurance coverage to “lawfully residing children and pregnant women.” This category includes legal permanent residents (LPRs), as well as children and pregnant women admitted for humanitarian reasons. It does not cover those here on a temporary basis or undocumented persons.
States receive federal matching funds to remove the 5-year waiting period at the enhanced federal matching rate, making this a fiscally-prudent policy change for Utah.
Currently, 28 states have expanded eligibility for immigrant children and 23 states have removed the waiting period for pregnant women. In states that expanded eligibility, immigrant children had a 24.5% increase in insurance coverage. 1 

The 5-year waiting period keeps vulnerable children and pregnant women from accessing needed services. Eliminating the waiting period reduces barriers to enrollment. Disparities could be substantially reduced by removing the five-year waiting period.

Eliminate  the 5-year  waiting period for legally permanent residents to qualify for CHIP and Medicaid. Utah Hispanic children  are 3x more likely  to be uninsured           compared to other Utah children. Help all children get the care they need.

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1. Saloner, B., Koyawala, N., & Kenney, G. M. (2014). Coverage For Low-Income Immigrant Children Increased 24.5 Percent In States That Expanded CHIPRA Eligibility. Health Affairs, 33(5), 832-839.

For 30 years now, Voices for Utah Children has called on our state, federal and local leaders to put children’s needs first. But the work is not done. The children of 30 years ago now have children of their own. Too many of these children are growing up in poverty, without access to healthcare or quality educational opportunities.

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We look forward to the future of Voices for Utah Children and we hope you will be a part of our next 30 years.

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JessieJessie Mandle, Senior Health Policy Analyst, joined the organization in 2015. Prior to joining Voices for Utah Children, Jessie was a Senior Program Planner with the San Francisco Department of Children, Youth and Their Families, where she focused on nutrition and Out of School Time areas. Jessie also worked as a policy researcher in Johannesburg, South Africa and oversaw a CDC grant for Multnomah County Aging and Disability Services in Portland, Oregon. Most recently, she worked with the Utah Department of Health and the Utah Cancer Action Network. Jessie has a Master's degree in Public Heath from Portland State University and a B.A. in Government from Wesleyan University in Connecticut.