Children's Health Advocates Call for CHIP Refunding

Republican and Democratic senators agreed Thursday that they need to extend funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program, which covers 8.4 million low- and moderate-income children.

CHIP was created 20 years ago to provide health coverage for vulnerable children in families that were too poor to afford private coverage, but still didn't quality for Medicaid. He co-authored the original CHIP legislation with former Democratic Sen. "Should the CHIP federal funding issue remain unresolved on the national level, West Virginia CHIP funding will be exhausted in March or April 2018".

The Children's Health Insurance Program - or CHIP - is for low-to-mid income families. Hatch told reporters today that he is in favor of a five-year CHIP reauthorization. Schwartz said a longer authorization is needed because of the political uncertainty surrounding health insurance markets as Republicans push to roll back Medicaid and Affordable Care Act coverage.

When CHIP was originally proposed and passed in 1997, Senator Orrin Hatch, the bill's co-sponsor, said that without health insurance, "Children are being terribly hurt and perhaps scarred for the rest of their lives". Amidst so much unrest and insecurity in our country and instability in our health care system facing an opioid crisis and the aftermath of damaging hurricanes afflicting countless children, Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle must step up together to ensure a healthy start for the 46 million children now helped by Medicaid and CHIP. They convened a Senate Finance Committee hearing on September 7th to discuss CHIP's future and lay the groundwork for its urgent extension millions of children need. Packaging CHIP renewal with funding for the Affordable Care Act's cost-sharing reduction payments to insurers could help GOP leaders get the CSR funding past balky conservatives, who don't want to vote for anything that stabilizes the ACA. Unlike Medicaid, which is an entitlement program, CHIP is funded by block grants that must be periodically renewed.

"The sticking points are the duration of the reauthorization, whether any other measures will be attached and whether to continue enhanced federal matching funds that were first included in the Affordable Care Act", the Hill reports. With state budgets already finalized for the coming year, states and families are depending on stability in CHIP policy and funding. By the end of 2018, all states would exhaust their funds.

"While we are hopeful that federal funding will be extended, further delays and the possibility of a curtailed CHIP match rate may put the program in jeopardy", Holstein continued. Hatch said in his opening statement.

The last two times the program was reauthorized, Congress allocated funding for two-year periods.

"Because states run their programs differently, some will run out of funding earlier than others", Wyden said. Out of the 8.4 million children covered by CHIP, an estimated two million have serious chronic conditions.

Leanna George, a mom from Johnston County, North Carolina went before Congress to explain what the Children's Health Insurance Program - or CHIP means to her son. "To lose CHIP would be devastating, because all the things we've done to build Caleb up we wouldn't have access to", she said. "Kids deserve the very best", he said. "We have to make sure CHIP is way way way up our priority list and doesn't get short shrift".

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