Democrats push to renew Children's Health Insurance Program

University of Chicago medical students rally for reauthorization

Democrats push to renew Children's Health Insurance Program

That's if Congress fails to fund the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

The Bay State is in a better position than some of its brethren because, thanks to a provision in the Affordable Care Act, children now covered by CHIP can be rolled into the state's Medicaid program, but the federal reimbursement rate for that coverage will drop to 50 percent. CHIP's federal funding authorization expired at the end of September, and now families in many states are receiving notices that their CHIP coverage could soon end.

Not every state can simply end coverage for children.

Stabenow helped with an agreement that passed the Senate Finance Committee in October to reauthorize CHIP for five years, but how to pay for it has also been an issue in that chamber. Our funds are now being shared with states like Arizona and Utah, where funding has already run out and where families are receiving mailed notices letting them know their children may lose health coverage.

As leading national, state, tribal, and local organizations concerned about the health and well-being of America's children and pregnant women, we are writing to urge you to immediately enact a strong, five-year extension of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

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. Some reports show that up to 20 states will run short of money in the first quarter of 2018. Since then, some states have relied on unspent funds to keep it going.

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Caldwell says the last time Alabama froze enrollment in CHIP for several months, in 2004, it took several years to convince parents that the program had reopened.

The chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Greg Walden of OR, said last week that the CHIP extension will be included in the short-term government funding bill to be considered by lawmakers later this week. It is a strong bipartisan state-federal partnership that gives governors broad flexibility to design their programs to target the needs of their child populations.

Rep. England said the state of Alabama doesn't have the money to pay for the program alone.

Alabama has one of the more generous eligibility ranges for the program. One Democratic aide said top lawmakers of both parties had subsequently quietly agreed to a package of savings. "The family does not have to make that decision of health care versus the bills and food for the family; Community Health Net will be there".

"Connecticut has been able to continue offering HUSKY B ... by using leftover federal funding".

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