Governor urges Congressional reauthorization of Children's Health Insurance Program


There is still hope that Congress will approve a reauthorization quickly, but state leaders are concerned if Congress doesn't act soon they will run out of money for the program, which is mostly paid for with federal funds.

Congressional authorization for the Children's Health Insurance Program, which provides low-cost health insurance for children from low- and middle-income families, expired September 30. Though most states will have money left over to keep CHIP going minimally for the next few months, they are preparing contingency plans as most kids on CHIP will eventually become uninsured if nothing is done. It was influential in letting down the percentage of children who were not insured from almost 14 percent when it started to 4.5 percent in 2015.

There is another option: The state could pick up the tab.

"Routine "well child" doctor and dental visits are free under CHIP". But unlike other Medicaid recipients, these children's care is 100 percent funded with no state contribution.

So, if Congress doesn't act to re-authorize CHIP funding, the state could be looking at a significant cost shift, and in some instances the state will be required to cover a certain population of children, and we will see an increase in state costs. Even rank-and-file Republicans were unsure of why, a GOP Congressional aide told the Tribune.

"We have families anxious about what will happen with coverage for their children", said Cathy Caldwell, Director of Children's Health Insurance Program at the Alabama Department of Public Health. Around 125,000 Oklahoma kids get everything from immunizations to inpatient care through CHIP. "No", she said. "Are they answering the calls from moms and dads nationwide who want to know when Congress will finally act on gun control? No".

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. "In Mississippi, community health centers play an important role in delivering health care and support services to underserved and uninsured patients".

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Arizona dropped KidsCare in 2014, briefly making it the only state in the nation with a version of CHIP. She said the federal match - three dollars for every state dollar - made it a good deal.

The children on Medicaid can't lose their federally-mandated coverage, though the state could be forced to pay for a portion of it if CHIP funding isn't continued at its current rate. The last renewal was in 2015, for two years.

"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. "But still, accidents happen", she said.

"We believe congress will come through, but the fact they would let the deadline expire is a concern", said Carnes. CHIP, which was established in 1997 with bipartisan support, serves about 8.4 million children.

When leading Democrats raised those worries with U.S. Rep.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee posted its bill just before midnight Monday. But once the Cassidy-Graham brouhaha started, "we couldn't even get a meeting", Lesley said.