Published: Fri, December 22, 2017
Health Care | By Alice Shelton

Congress' CHIP patch accelerates rate states will run out of money

Congress' CHIP patch accelerates rate states will run out of money

Some 17,000 youths in CT will lose their health insurance by the end of January if Congress doesn't find a way to fund the Children's Health Insurance Program.

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.

Thousands of children in Alabama will lose coverage unless Congress can pass the authorization to extend funding for CHIP.

Not every state can simply end coverage for children.

"We must do it very soon", House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said at a news conference with the Democratic Women's Working Group.

Some states that are almost out of money are preparing to freeze enrollment or cancel CHIP coverage if lawmakers don't soon reach a deal. According to a survey the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation conducted in November and released this month, 14 states were planning to end or phase out coverage for children, including five by the end of January.

State officials could begin sending cancellation notices in January to meet a 60-day notification requirement, said Angela Minicuci, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

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"It's incredibly frustrating it's taken so long and such great lengths to fund this historically bipartisan program, but we are encouraged that we are now a step closer to seeing this critical extension become law", Walden said last week in a statement with Texas Rep. Michael C. Burgess, who chairs the panel's Health Subcommittee. 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. Even Jimmy Kimmel urged Americans to tell their representatives to fund the program.

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.

Alabama has one of the more generous eligibility ranges for the program. Federal money pays for nearly 90 percent of that.

The Senate Finance Committee easily approved its own five-year measure in October, but that bill lacked offsetting savings to pay for the extra money.

There is still a chance that CHIP funding will be reauthorized, but in the meantime, the three-month uncertainty about the program's future is already creating headaches and anxiety.

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

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