House offers short-term funding for children's health insurance

22 December, 2017, 02:11 | Author: Samuel Hayes
  • Long-term deal for children's health again eludes Congress

House Republicans have included $2.85 billion to extend funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in a stopgap spending measure meant to prevent a government shutdown on Saturday.

CHIP helps families who don't qualify for Medicaid, but have trouble affording health insurance for their kids. Congress let the program expire in September, and states are starting to run low on, or run out of, CHIP money. Those children will keep their health care, but the state will have to pick up the cost of their coverage. "They control Congress", said Tennessee House Democratic Caucus Chair Mike Stewart. An immediate, long-term extension of funding for CHIP must be passed now.

It remained uncertain how those states and others would react to the latest infusion of federal money. "However, these funds are expected to run out on January 31, 2018", state officials wrote online.

The Children's Health Insurance Program also provides funding for 77,000 Alabama children enrolled in the state's Medicaid program.

I would like to quote what Sen Hatch (R-Utah) said in 1997 when Co-sponsoring the original program with Sen Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) saying "as a nation, as a society, we have a moral responsibility" to provide coverage for the most vulnerable children.

Mallory McManus, a spokeswoman for the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, said the state was "closely monitoring" to see if Congress will restore the money. They say they need lead time to keep recipients abreast about the status of their assistance and to adjust their programs if there's a chance state allotments might change. She said officials were "considering all our options" for possibly losing federal funds.

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Alabama has one of the more generous eligibility ranges for the program. It is exactly how to pay for the $15.6 billion a year program where the disagreement remains.

The temporary funds would be approved by a continuing resolution bill and the Senate needs to vote on that too.

Foxhoven says he thinks CHIP will be reauthorized, but he says Congress has been unpredictable.

Income eligibility levels for CHIP vary widely among states, though most set thresholds at or below 200 percent of the poverty level, about $49,000 for a family of four.

Michigan's program uses CHIP funding to support several programs, including coverage for certain children on Medicaid and mothers who are undocumented immigrants.

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