m3n4.net October 18, 2018

Hatch Bill To Renew CHIP Funding Passes Senate Committee

05 October 2017, 12:19 | Tara Lloyd

Hatch Bill To Renew CHIP Funding Passes Senate Committee

Hatch Bill To Renew CHIP Funding Passes Senate Committee

Nine million kids across the country may be uninsured after congress allowed the Children's Health Insurance Program to expire.

The federal government has funded most of the program, with states contributing a marginal amount.

Watching the situation closely is Health O'Loughlin, co-director of the Montana Budget and Policy Center in Helena. Without reauthorization, providers are anxious millions of children will lose access to care. That's not the case for higher-income All Kids participants. However, the bill eliminates a provision set by the Affordable Care Act that enhanced federal allotments for the program by 23%, with states receiving matching levels ranging from 88% to 100%.

Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., hailed the committee's passage of the bill, saying, "We must never forget what this program means for millions of children and their families". Washington's current matching rate is 88 percent.

Protecting the health of America's children, by ensuring their access to health care, should be enough of a priority that members of Congress will focus their attention on this legislation and pass it as quickly as possible.

CHIP money covers two subsets of children in Montana, with the feds paying about 98 percent of the costs.

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"The pregnant women covered by CHIP would be at risk of losing coverage altogether", she wrote.

HO: Almost 7,000 children.

The CHIP program covers about 9 million kids nationwide.

HO: Some of these families may be able to shift their children onto their parents employer sponsored plans, or marketplace plans that they may be accessing. For many, he said, just the cost of a co-pay alone would be a third of a family's monthly income. South Plains Food Bank CEO David Weaver estimated the end of the program could affect up to 400,000 children living in Texas.

In Pennsylvania, the Children's Health Insurance Program provides insurance benefits to 176,000 children up to age 19.

"It's basically a safety net for working families for health insurance for their children".

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Montana created the Healthy Montana Kids Program in 2009, after 70 percent of Montana voters approved an expansion of CHIP.

Minnesota Department of Human Services Commissioner Emily Piper has long warned Congress about the consequences of letting CHIP lapse. In 2006 and 2007, Congress increased funding for the program, but was unable to find Executive Branch support for reauthorization. They have always done so in the past and the only difference this time is that Congress has an even more compelling reason to quickly rectify their misdeeds. Mauk said she's "fervently hopeful" that last-minute hearings in Congress will help reinstate the funds before states run out. Is this sort of a no-brainer that both parties are going to continue funding CHIP, or what makes you think that the funding might be in jeopardy. We're certainly not taking anything for granted.

"We're still holding out hope for a bipartisan deal", Hand said Monday afternoon.

If Congress doesn't extend CHIP, Oklahoma would lose about $50 million, according to Jo Stainsby, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Health Care Authority.

EW: And there's a real timing issue here for Montana, right?

The law does allow the use of unspent funds from prior years, so states are now relying on those accounts. As Talking Points Memo explained, "at least ten states are on track to run out of [CHIP] money by the end of the year".

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But congressional failure to extend the funding would do more than halt Florida's momentum toward expanding coverage; it would knock hundreds of thousands of children backward, leaving them without public- or private-sector insurance.

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