Thursday, September 28, 2017

Children's health program to run dry if not reauthorized by Sept. 30

A health care program that provides coverage for millions of children in the US is in danger if Congress doesn't act within the next few days. "Federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program—through which 8.9 million children receive health coverage—is set to expire on Sept. 30 and an act of Congress is required to reauthorize its allotment," Quinn Libson reports for Route Fifty. "If Congress fails to act, funding for the program could run out in as many as 10 states, as soon as the end of this year. Twenty-seven states will run out of their CHIP funding by March 2018." CHIP covers children in families with incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid.

The Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission and the Kaiser Family Foundation gather data on how much money states have for CHIP funding. Based on those numbers, the two organizations have slightly different projections about which states would run out of money for CHIP. MACPAC says Arizona, Minnesota, North Carolina, and the District of Columbia will likely run out of funding by the end of 2017. Kaiser has a bigger count: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Mississippi, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Utah. Both organizations agree that all 50 states and the District of Columbia will run out of CHIP funding by the end of 2018 though, unless the program is reauthorized, Libson reports.

Kaiser Family Foundation map; click to enlarge.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and the committee's ranking member, Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), reached an agreement on Sept. 12 to extend CHIP for five years, with some slight alterations. Their plan would cut federal contributions to the program in half in 2020 and eliminate them in 2021, leaving states to fend for themselves. But with the recent brouhaha over the Cassidy-Graham bill, Congress hasn't been paying much attention to CHIP.

If CHIP is not reauthorized, most states will face a significant budget shortfall, since 48 out of 50 states have already passed their budgets for 2018 as if CHIP funding will continue. Linda Nablo, the chief deputy director of the Virginia Department of Medical Services, told Libson "It would be just a terrible time to try to find tens of millions of dollars more."

No comments: