Today is CHIP’s 17th birthday! As we reflect on the success of this important program, a recent report nicely summarizes its impact. The Impact of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP): What Does the Research Tell Us?, a report by The Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, highlights CHIP’s real impact on providing coverage for children from racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds. According to the Kaiser report, Medicaid and CHIP cover more than half of 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), according to the Commission’s issue brief. This report is timely given that just last week, the chairmen and ranking members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Senate Finance Committee issued a letter to all governors asking for feedback about CHIP.

As the Kaiser report shows, CHIP is an important initiative 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 play a vital role in opening a doorway to needed health care and, over the long run, healthier and more productive lives. Further, a New York CHIP program study finds enrollment in CHIP almost eliminates racial and ethnic health disparities across multiple measures related to access, unmet need, and continuity of care. While more work needs to be done across multiple sectors including economic security, educational attainment, and healthy food access, CHIP plays an important role in moving the needle on health equity.

Communities of color are important allies in safeguarding CHIP and amplifying its role in turning the tide on health disparities. As we activate our bases and encourage our coalitions to raise their voices to secure continuation of CHIP, it is important to re-evaluate if all the right people are at the table. Are racially and ethnically diverse communities represented in children’s health coalitions? Are their voices represented around advocacy planning and strategy? What does meaningful engagement of communities of color look like?

Community Catalyst put together a list of the Top Ten Tips in Engaging Communities of Color for Policy Change to support advocates in their efforts to reach and engage coalition partners representing racially and ethnically diverse communities. Important takeaways include: finding the right messenger, practicing team building, engaging beyond education, and celebrating successes. These will be important strategies to deploy in building support for the continuation of CHIP.

To learn more about how state consumer advocates have put these tips into practice, check out our blog series, Health Equity in Focus