Require CHIP reporting by race and income, say 130 consumer advocacy organizations

States should be required to describe health coverage by income level, race, and ethnicity — primary language spoken in their Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) plans, said the National Health Law Program and some 130 other organizations in an early January letter to Department of Health and Human Service Secretary Donna Shalala.

"It is now well-established in the research that minority children are more likely than non-minority children to lack health insurance," said the National Health Lawyers Program (NHeLP) advocates in separate comments to proposed rules implementing CHIP legislation. "To understand and eliminate this disparity, health policy-makers, analysts, providers, and government authorities need access to information about how the . . . program is meeting the needs of eligible minority children."

Requiring such data will help ensure that CHIP initiatives are in compliance with federal civil rights laws, including Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and will assist the department in meeting its its goal of eradicating racial and ethnic disparities in health care by the year 2010, says NHeLP. In addition, such information will help build a comprehensive minority health database recently recommended by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

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