73 million.

73 million. This is the number of people who rely on Medicaid for their health coverage – and almost half of them are children. It’s the number that stands out on the screen as we read Kaiser Health News’s assessment of how a shift in Medicaid policy would impact consumers. As we near the end of one administration and ready for a new one, it is important to reflect on the reach of Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and their impact and role as a lifeline for families to access needed health care.

And while uncertainty may surround what the next administration might do, one thing is certain: Medicaid and CHIP work.

My Medicaid Matters

Medicaid and CHIP are the cornerstones of coverage for low-income families.

Medicaid is a multi-generational program set up to protect our most vulnerable consumers at any stage in their lives. Under the ACA, Medicaid has expanded in many states to cover people in the coverage gap – those earning too much for traditional Medicaid but too little to qualify for tax credits in the Marketplace. Alongside Medicaid, CHIP has provided coverage to the almost eight million children whose families currently or once lived in this gap.

Healthy families lead productive lives: healthy parents contribute to their workplace and their community and healthy children come to school ready to learn.

Medicaid and CHIP work to increase access to timely and needed care. Studies show that children who have access to continuous health services lead healthier, more productive lives over the long term. We know that restricting access to these vital programs harms children and their families and can limit their opportunity to lead healthy lives.

Medicaid and CHIP play an important role in advancing health equity for children.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, Medicaid and CHIP cover more than half of all Hispanic children (52 percent) and Black children (56 percent) compared to a little over a quarter of white (26 percent) and Asian children (25 percent). As the Kaiser report shows, Medicaid and CHIP, in partnership with the ACA, are important initiatives to reduce health disparities and increase access for children of color. Coverage is the first step in securing better health outcomes for all children. And for children from racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds, Medicaid and CHIP open a door to needed health services.

Let’s start collecting and sharing the stories of the low-income families that have benefited from Medicaid and CHIP.

More than 73 million. That is how many stories are out there about the success of Medicaid and CHIP. Let’s get started on collecting those stories, like advocates in Pennsylvania have done through their new InsurePA website, so we can ensure that Medicaid and CHIP will continue to support children and families for years to come. Stay tuned for helpful messages and other tools from Community Catalyst to assist in your story collection efforts.