Congress Let A Program That Insures 9 Million Kids Expire This Weekend

Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Eligibility Requirements | HealthCare.gov

The Republicans in Congress may have failed to strip health insurance from 25 million or so of their fellow Americans with their latest failure to pass Trumpcare.

Joan Benso, president and CEO of the nonprofit Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, said the annual federal share of CHIP funding in the state is more than $385 million. State officials are already discussing whether they could continue the program if federal CHIP funding isn't reauthorized, Capriotti said.

On Sept. 30, federal funding for CHIP expired, leaving states alone in footing the bill in paying for the health care of millions of children and pregnant women in low- and moderate-income homes. But unlike other Medicaid recipients, these children's care is 100 percent funded with no state contribution.

If CHIP gets its funding back, it would be extended for five years but the program could run out as soon as December in states like including Arizona, Minnesota, and North Carolina and the District of Columbia.

"We would notify families at least 30 days before the date the program terminates for lack of funding", said Kait Gillis, Director of Communications for the Department of Human Services.

If Congress doesn't reauthorize the program, millions of children could eventually lose their current health insurance.

Efforts are expected to begin in the House this week, to hopefully prevent long-term financial problems for those who depend on CHIP. The Senate had put forth a bipartisan, 5-year bill to renew the program, but didn't schedule a vote in time, instead prioritizing legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare.

CHIP is a federal health insurance option for working families without access to insurance.

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Technically the money doesn't run out on October first - but there is now no vote scheduled to restore the $15 billion in funding for at minimum a week, according to the Los Angeles Times, and most states will have few budget dollars left to keep a program going that has nearly eliminated uninsuranced kids in this country. Maryland, which has about 140,000 CHIP enrollees, has enough money to last through March, state officials estimate. Pete Sessions, R-Dallas, at a U.S. House Rules Committee hearing, he aimed to assuage their concerns. Cate Jeffries with the Oklahoma Health Care Authority said they can prolong the program if they essentially start buying on credit.

Many CHIP recipients make use of smaller community health centers such as Valley Health Systems, based in Huntington, which treats 442 patients covered through CHIP.

In the letter, sent to the Children's Health Coverage Coalition, Young said her agency has coordinated with other organizations such as the National Association for Medical Doctors and the National Academy for State Health Policy to support CHIP nationally.

"We believe congress will come through, but the fact they would let the deadline expire is a concern", said Carnes.

When is Congress likely to act?

If the federal CHIP dollars are not reinstated, Capriotti said AHCCCS is looking at potential program changes that could end, freeze or reorganize it. I think there's a question of priorities, and we're hopeful that Congress will hear from constituents that states that CHIP is really a critical program for kids health, and hopefully we'll see them move on something quickly.

But even with the state no longer having to provide a match, some Arizona legislators still opposed the program.

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