Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Some states prepare for worst, send warning letters as children's health funds begin to run out

Since federal authorization for the Children's Health Insurance Program lapsed in September, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have paid more than $600 million in emergency funds to 14 states and territories to help keep their programs running. The money comes from leftover CHIP allotments from previous years, Quinn Libson reports for Route Fifty.

Congress is reportedly making some progress toward a bipartisan deal to reauthorize the program, which provides medical coverage for 9 million low- and middle-income children. The Hill reports that staff from relevant committees  in both parties and chambers met over Thanksgiving to discuss a package that could include funding for CHIP, community health centers, extensions for some expiring Medicare programs, and a bill to make Medicare spending more efficient. "The health-care package could be attached to either a short-term government spending bill in early December, or the longer-term government funding bill later in December. Advocates are pushing for it to be included in the earlier, short-term bill," The Hill reports.
A Politico map shows when each state is expected to run out of money.
Meanwhile, states are preparing for worst-case scenarios. State officials in Colorado sent letters to families this week warning them that their children's insurance could run out Jan. 30, and encouraged them to start researching private insurance options, John Ingold reports for The Denver Post. Virginia is planning to send out a similar letter to Colorado's, and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said she's prepared to spend $35 million in state funds to keep CHIP running after it runs out of federal money in the next few weeks, Michael Ollove reports for Governing.

"Minnesota, which was on the verge of going bust in October, managed to cadge $3.6 million in emergency funds from the government to carry it through the end of the year," Michael Hiltzik reports for the Los Angeles Times. "Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is pondering whether to raid his state’s rainy day fund. But as deadlines approach, most states have little choice other than to start throwing children off the CHIP rolls, cutting back on services or shutting down completely."

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