Congress fails to renew funding for CHIP

The program provides coverage for children of families who do not qualify for Medicaid health coverage for the poor

The 20-year-old Children's Health Insurance Program is gap insurance for low-income families who don't qualify for Medicaid.

The CHIP program has tended to have broad bipartisan support. Many states - covering a majority of children nationally - offer CHIP recipients comprehensive benefits that are identical to Medicaid, though some have skimpier coverage and a few require the payment of premiums. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, authored an op-ed on the anti-abortion website LifeNews.com on Monday touting the legislation. About 9 million children in the United States get health insurance through CHIP. Twenty-one additional states (plus D.C.) are expected to run out of CHIP money in the first quarter of 2018. CHIP has been in this fix only one other time since it was established in 1997.

Here's a quick look at what may lie ahead for the program.

What does the missed deadline mean now for children in Pennsylvania and New Jersey who are insured through CHIP?

They could eventually, but not immediately. The program, managed under Medicaid, may soon run out of money after Congress failed to meet the deadline to authorize the renewal of funding over the weekend. "Our hope is that Congress will act long before our reserves are exhausted". She said the federal match - three dollars for every state dollar - made it a good deal.

Lawmakers had until September 30 to reauthorize CHIP. Piper is still waiting on details of when the funds will arrive and how much Minnesota will receive.

Approximately 2,600 pregnant women are receiving prenatal care via either CHP+ or Medicaid, according to the state. The program was revived a year ago and now covers a little more than 22,000 children. 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. So far, though, the state says it is not moving to suspend service or enrollment or alert enrollees about any possible changes.

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About $165 million in CHIP funding was spent on Medicaid recipients previous year; $198 million was spent on children in All Kids, according to the Medicaid office. But, so far, it's continuing business as usual.

"We would notify families at least 30 days before the date the program terminates for lack of funding", she wrote. "Still, Congress needs to reauthorize this program quickly, and I am hopeful we will have a bill in front of us for a vote soon".

According to the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, once the federal funding runs out through CHIP for Colorado, the almost 70,000 people in Colorado whose coverage is funded through CHIP would retain coverage through Medicaid, but would see reduced funding in the federal match.

When is Congress likely to act?

A House committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on renewing CHIP tomorrow, and advocates were cheered to learn today that the bill it will consider is in the same posture as the Senate's in terms of the five-year reauthorization and gradual wind-down of the enhanced subsidy. The program knocked the uninsurance rate for children down from 14 percent at its inception to 4.5 percent by 2015. The agreement would extend the life of the CHIP program through 2022. "But I still see them because they qualify for CHIP". "Policies like this can always be improved, but Congress should waste no more time in reauthorizing this important program". Ron Wyden, calls for the program to be renewed for five years, not the two-year extension that some conservatives favor. The picture varies from state to state, depending on local support.

In fact, CHIP wasn't the only health-care funding that quietly died during that fight. The rest are covered under Iowa's Medicaid expansion.

According to the Department of Family and Health Services, families will not face any immediate issues. Phil Galewitz is a senior correspondent for KHN.

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