Kids’ Coverage Matters

Did you know over 100,000 children in Virginia are eligible but not enrolled in Medicaid or Family Access to Medical Insurance Security (FAMIS)?  FAMIS provides affordable health, dental and mental health coverage to children and pregnant women living in families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but too little to afford private insurance.  

FAMIS already serves as an oral health safety net for more than 104,000 children and 4,600 pregnant women in Virginia by providing affordable, comprehensive dental care.  Covered services include teeth cleanings, check-ups, x-rays and fillings.  Considering dental disease is the most common childhood disease in the Commonwealth, and the fact that periodontal disease can increase the risk of preterm birth, routine dental care is critical to maintain overall health in our infants, youth and expectant mothers.

Federal funding for the FAMIS program (known as the Children's Health Insurance Program or “CHIP” in Washington) is set to expire on September 30, 2015.  If nothing is done in Congress to extend funding, the hundreds of thousands of Virginia children eligible for coverage will lose access to affordable health care.  Members of Congress are working to keep the program stable and funded through 2019; however, debates remain regarding how long to fund the program, how much money to give states and how to ensure comparable coverage exists when the program ends. 

Right now, you can make a difference for low-income children and pregnant women who stand to benefit from FAMIS by telling families to visit Cover Virginia for enrollment information or by contacting Virginia's members of Congress to support an extension of CHIP funding.  For information about other dental care options for un- or underinsured Virginians, visit our Find a Provider webpage.  For free oral health educational materials, visit the Think Teeth webpage.

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Samantha Dorr