Thursday, October 05, 2017

After Congress doesn't reauthorize CHIP in time, states scramble to cope; Minn. an example

In the heat of trying to pass the Graham-Cassidy bill to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Congress didn't reauthorize the Children's Health Insurance Program before it expired at midnight Sept. 30. CHIP provides insurance to children whose parents make too much to qualify for Medicaid, but who still cannot afford private insurance. "From the perspective of health officials at the state level, this inaction on the part of Congress has done more than jeopardize the health of as many as 8.9 million children. A delay in CHIP reauthorization has left state budgets in limbo and has seriously strained the relationship between the federal government and its state health partners," Quinn Libson reports for Route Fifty.

If the program is not reauthorized, as many as 10 states will run out of CHIP money by the end of the year, and all states plus Washington D.C. will run out by next summer. The situation is particularly dire in Minnesota, where CHIP covers around 125,000 children, 200 babies and 1,700 pregnant women. Because it wasn't renewed, the state had to start paying a much larger share of costs than normal. That could potentially cost the state $60 million, and cause pregnant women and infants to be cut from the program, Libson reports. Emily Piper, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Services, says the state may use unspent CHIP funding from 2017 to cover the pregnant women and infants. But such a move would violate a federal rule and the state could have to pay up to $10 million as a penalty.

The Senate is trying to play catch-up and pass an five-year funding extension of CHIP proposed in mid-September, Libson reports in a different story. The Hatch-Wyden plan would extend CHIP for five years, but it would cut federal contributions to the program in half in 2020 and eliminate them in 2021, leaving states to fend for themselves. House Republicans are trying to pay for the program by cutting Medicaid and/or Medicare, setting up a tussle with the Senate.

No comments: