House and Senate Will Mark Up CHIP Reauthorization Tomorrow

Everyone in Congress knew the deadline was approaching.

Alabama lawmakers responded to the news. As of September 1, according to AHCA data, some 220,000 children - 3,154 in Manatee County; 3,639 in Sarasota County - were enrolled in some form of CHIP, which provides coverage to kids in households with earnings that exceed the very low threshold for Medicaid but by no means can afford private coverage. The number of patients seeking care at the health centers, which have a sliding scale for people without insurance, has more than doubled since 2006.

In Pennsylvania, the Children's Health Insurance Program provides insurance benefits to 176,000 children up to age 19. Unfortunately, the federal contribution is not open-ended: It has to be renewed every few years. In 2013 and 2015, Congress approved only two-year extensions.

Unfortunately, the CHIP reauthorization process is getting more, not less, complicated.

The states have a little bit of a cushion.

"Kids need regular immunizations for preventative care, they get sick more often, and are more prone to accidents", Gherlein said. But the situation is tight. The matching funds would continue through fiscal year 2019, fall to 11.5% in fiscal year 2020 and be eliminated entirely in fiscal year 2021. Some states, however, may run out by the end of November. And Minnesota would face a $10 million federal penalty if it has to tap into its unspent federal allotment for 2017. "Parents also reported that obtaining care while their children were uninsured resulted in significant financial hardships, requiring them to cut back on necessities, borrow money from family or friends, and accrue debt for missed payments on bills".

How did this happen?

The media is paying attention, even if the Congress is not. "CHIP-Spending-by-State-FY-2016-millions.pdf" target="_blank">$15.6 billion that year; the federal government paid for most of that.

Support for CHIP and other lifesaving programs should be permanent, and never become a political football. Yet even then, Sens.

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The law does allow the use of unspent funds from prior years, so states are now relying on those accounts.

Congress allowed the Children's Health Insurance Program to expire last month.

Joe Dorman, CEO of the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy, said Oklahoma's $215 million budget gap makes it more likely children will lose services.

Brent Wilborn, director of public policy at the Oklahoma Primary Care Association, said most community health centers have enough funding to continue operating through the end of December, but uncertainty about their budgets could make it hard to plan. "All of us (health centers) are dependent on grant funding because of the population we're taking care of".

So they settled for yanking it from a smaller group of Americans.

Now that the Republicans' fourth effort to kill ObamaCare has died with an ignominious whimper, lawmakers are suddenly hearing the public outcry over the expired funding.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee also said it would consider legislation to reauthorize CHIP sometime in early October. It mirrors the Senate Finance plan by extending funding for CHIP for five years and gradually phasing down the 23-percentage-point funding increase provided under Affordable Care Act over the next two years. In an attempt to hasten the bill to the Senate floor, committee members from both parties agreed to not propose any amendments.

If Congress doesn't act, I think we do run the risk of facing coverage losses for children in Montana.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)

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