IL children health insurance at risk

Congress to Address CHIP Funding Wednesday

The Children's Health Insurance Program's budget has expired as of September 30.

The program provides federal matching funds to states that offer health insurance for children whose families earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to purchase coverage of their own. Without reauthorization, providers are anxious millions of children will lose access to care.

EW: The federal government requires the state to provide CHIP coverage to a certain segment of the population, whether or not the federal funding is actually there. She noted that from 2015 to 2016, the rate of uninsured children in Arizona dropped by 11 percent - the fourth largest drop in the nation.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee plans to vote on the bill Wednesday.

Ten states, including California, will run out of money by the end of December if Congress doesn't reauthorize the program and appropriate funding for the fiscal year that started Sunday, according to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

"States don't want to have to disenroll their kids", said Maureen Hensley-Quinn, senior program director at National Academy for State Health Policy, a non-partisan group that advises states on health policy. Potentially threating reauthorization of CHIP are some House GOP proposals to pay for continuing the program.

Auditor General Eugene DePasquale urged prompt funding of the Children's Helath Insurance Program on Tuesday.

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Sen. Steve Daines, a Republican, also called the program critical for Montana but was more optimistic about quick action in Congress. "The program has enjoyed broad bipartisan support, and I expect Congress will reauthorize CHIP soon". They don't burn through the federal money all at once, and leftover funds can be rolled over into the following year's funding.

CHIP allotted $25.5 billion in coverage nationwide from 2015 to 2016, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, insuring children who do not qualify for Medicaid but in families that can not afford private insurance.

The program is created to cover age-appropriate services especially needed by children, Hamilton said, including dental coverage, metal health and substance use treatment that may otherwise not be covered by other insurance means available to low-income families. Around 125,000 Oklahoma kids get everything from immunizations to inpatient care through CHIP.

But congressional failure to extend the funding would do more than halt Florida's momentum toward expanding coverage; it would knock hundreds of thousands of children backward, leaving them without public- or private-sector insurance. House and Senate lawmakers have said they will pursue CHIP legislation this week.

By March 2018, it said, CHIP funds will be exhausted in 27 additional states, including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Oregon and Pennsylvania. By June 2018, every state except Wyoming is expected to exhaust their federal money as well.

"The state share is 10 percent of the program now, pretty quickly we'd run out of that money", she said. It mirrors the Senate Finance plan by extending funding for CHIP for five years and gradually phasing down the 23-percentage-point funding increase provided under Affordable Care Act over the next two years.

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