“States need to know whether they will need to find additional funding for children covered under the Medicaid CHIP program at a much lower federal matching rate, send letters to families, and re-program their eligibility systems”, said Lisa Dubay, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute. Its origins are bipartisan. No excuses. CHIP is an extraordinarily worthwhile program for children and mothers in Louisiana, and across the U.S. It should be a crime to tell people it’s in danger when it’s not. It was meant to be a federal/state partnership to support the healthcare needs of children who are in families with incomes that are too high to qualify for Medicaid and too low to be able afford commercial insurance coverage.
Before the CHIP funding extension on December 21, Alabama said it would freeze enrollment January 1 and shut down the program January 31.
Interestingly, 44% of children are enrolled in CHIP programs that are separate from the state’s Medicaid program, so if federal funding runs out, the state may unilaterally and without penalty discontinue its CHIP program. The out of pocket cost would not change because the child’s premium will be paid for by tax credits. The agency is now in talks with the hardest hit states, though exactly when funding will run out for whom is a “moving target”.
One apparent glitch in the renewal is House Republicans’ desire to use the measure to starve other health care programs. CHIP covers nine million children nationwide, including an estimated 255,000 in IL. Their health coverage is now at risk. Coverage for the kids would cost taxpayers more than CHIP coverage. This is a lamentable and avoidable case of poor governance.
“We appreciate that Congress included funding for CHIP in the continuing resolution that runs through January 19, 2018”, CMS spokesperson Johnathan Monroe said in a statement to TPM.
CHIP, by all rights, should be completely uncontroversial.
Federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program or CHIP is dwindling fast. During the last shutdown aversion deal, reached just before the Christmas holiday, lawmakers approved of a deal that extended CHIP funding for three months. But that is a bureaucratic band-aid; some large states are warning families they may not be able to rely on CHIP for much longer.
After the funding extension, Alabama put a hold on shutting down CHIP. Kids’ health coverage-and for some, their health-are at stake. Authorization expired in September, and so far states have kept CHIP going with unspent funds carried over from previous appropriations.
Jennifer Calder with Montana Kids Count said 23,000 children could lose health insurance funding altogether.
“Vision, dental, behavioral, and developmental screenings and appropriate follow-up care and treatment can set young children up for better health and functioning in childhood, making Medicaid/CHIP a critical link to children’s readiness for school”, the authors write. And their mothers will lose access to prenatal checkups and other health services for their unborn child. “So it’s not uncommon for it to be a $150 to $200 per child for coverage”, Fackler said. Protecting CHIP will provide the kind of fiscal stability that states need, and the health security that families deserve.