Utah is ‘stepping up’ by providing health insurance to immigrant children

Oct 11, 2023, 12:00 PM | Updated: 1:00 pm

ep. Jim Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville, and Senate Minority Leader Luz Escamilla, D-Salt Lake City, talk ...

Rep. Jim Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville, and Senate Minority Leader Luz Escamilla, D-Salt Lake City, talk and pose for photos after a press conference to announce the expansion of a new State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to cover children previously deemed ineligible due to their citizenship status at the Glendale Community Learning Center in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2023. Enrollment will begin on Jan. 1, 2024. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

(Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Earlier this year, Utah legislators passed a bill that allows children of immigrants to be eligible for the state’s Children’s Health Insurance Program.

A press conference was held last week to unveil the new Utah CHIP program. Ciriac Alvarez Valle, senior policy analyst at Voices for Utah Children, told KSL NewsRadio how the bill will affect immigrant communities in Utah.


Alvarez Valle said it would help cover children who aren’t U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents. That includes children of undocumented immigrants as well.

“It’s projected from the Department of Health that about 2,000 kids would qualify for this,” Alvarez Valle said.

Families will be able to apply through the Department of Health and Human Services starting in 2024. Those who apply can’t be on subsidized employment and must be a Utah resident for six months.

Utah ‘stepping up’ to insure children

Alvarez Valle said the only difference in coverage is immigrant children will have state CHIP coverage rather than federal CHIP coverage. 

“For the past five years, we’ve just seen an alarming trend where Utah has one of the highest rates of uninsured kids in the whole country,” Alvarez Valle said.

The rates of uninsured kids are highest for Latino children and children in rural areas have the highest rates of being uninsured. Alvarez Valle said it’s a welcome mat effect. Not only is the legislation bipartisan and aimed toward working and low-income families, but it’s also “helping the most vulnerable children in our state.”

“We are stepping up in ensuring that all kids in our state have the opportunity to have coverage and then get the health care that they need,” Alvarez Valle said.

This legislation is especially important right now, she said, because the Continuous Medicaid Eligibility is “unwinding.” Many people are losing coverage as the public health emergency the COVID-19 pandemic spurred has come to an end.

So, instead of more health care coverage loss, Utah is providing more coverage to those in need.

Alvarez Valle said there’s also research that shows that children who have health insurance have better short-term and long-term health outcomes. They’re also more likely to graduate high school, earn high wages and generate more tax revenue for the state.


We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.



Michelle Lee

Find greater happiness through joy-filled connections

Let’s Get Moving Host Maria Shilaos spoke with Clinical Psychologist Dr. Carla Manly to learn how we can boost happiness through connections.

1 day ago

The Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City, Utah.A Utah cancer researcher says more study is n...

Don Brinkerhoff and Simone Seikaly

Utah cancer researcher says new accelerated aging study needs more examination

A new study says accelerated aging may be linked to early-onset cancer, but a Utah cancer researcher says more investigation is needed.

2 days ago

It's Child Abuse Prevention Month, and Intermountain wants parents to know how to deal with the str...

Devin Oldroyd

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month; Parents should know how to handle baby stress

It's Child Abuse Prevention Month, and Intermountain wants parents to know how to deal with the stress of a new baby

2 days ago

A team at the University of Utah has received funding to research if ultrasound technology can help...

Britt Johnson

University of Utah using funding for ultrasound research to treat addiction

Could an ultrasound help cure addiction? A team of researchers at the University of Utah thinks so.

2 days ago

Pickleball has exploded in popularity in Utah and across the nation. Perhaps not surprisingly, so h...

Amanda Dickson

Dickson: Preventing pickleball injuries

SALT LAKE CITY — My Dad played pickleball until he was 90 years old. He was a stud. And there are several seriously competitive pickleball players in the KSL newsroom. I won’t name names (Matt Johnson). “Pickleball is exploding in the U.S. with the number of players increasing from 4.8 million in 2021 to 8.9 […]

4 days ago

Melatonin is a hormonal sleep aid. According to the Mayo Clinic, melatonin is produced and released...

Alexandrea Bonilla

Melatonin companies given two years to childproof their product, after melatonin related ER visits increase

The CDC said more than 11,000 children went to the ER in the last two years after ingesting melatonin.

4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.


Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

Utah is ‘stepping up’ by providing health insurance to immigrant children