Vigil Held In Support of Children's Insurance Program

Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of N.Y. speaks to the media Thursday Jan. 4 2018 on Capitol Hill in Washington

CHIP funding will run dry in several states by the end of January

CHIP, a federal-state matching program that serves almost nine million moderately low-income children, is among the urgent priorities that seem to have gotten lost amid congressional efforts to repeal Obamacare and revise the tax code.

A short-term government funding bill that passed at the end of the year included a provision providing $2.85 billion for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), putting off a larger budget debate that could include immigration and border security.

The dynamics involved are complicated, and include the effects of eliminating the Obamacare individual mandate as well as reductions in the federal matching rate for CHIP that kick in over time, but the CBO's conclusion is getting attention in Congress, which has been unable to agree on how to fund the program.

In a January 5 letter to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, the CBO outlined an updated financial analysis of a Senate bill that would reauthorize CHIP funding for five more years, S. 1827.

Walden, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said new estimates by the Congressional Budget Office help clear the way for the program, the Hill noted.

Before Congress acted last month, the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission, which advises Congress, had projected that Arizona, the District of Columbia, Minnesota and North Carolina would exhaust CHIP funding by December 31. Part of the problem is they haven't been told by CMS how it will disburse money from the agency's so-called redistribution pool. "Funding is still set to run out as early as January 19 in some states". The delay in reauthorizing CHIP has confused children's health advocates because both parties have supported CHIP since its creation in 1997.

When Marina Natali's younger son broke his arm ice-skating previous year, she did not have to worry about paying: CHIP footed all of his medical bills. She can't afford private coverage for her two children on her dental hygienist pay.

"These are kids", Walker said. When Ciro broke his arm ice-skating a year ago, CHIP covered his medical bills.

Walker doesn't believe CHIP will go away entirely, but she said the state needs to have a plan to figure out how to provide coverage with its current resources.

Pennsylvania officials notified CHIP providers in late December - who then informed enrollees - that the state would have to end the program in March unless Congress acts.

"These families don't know if the rug is being pulled out from them at any time", he said. Murkowski said health care costs should be a priority. "We're going to have lower coverage for parents than we used to".

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