Congress may let 9 million kids lose health insurance

It’s been nearly two months since Congress failed to reauthorize a critical program that provides health insurance for 8.9 million kids and some 370,000 pregnant women—the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

As Congress continues to drag its feet refunding the roughly $15 billion program, states across the country are preparing to inform families that their coverage may soon expire.

CHIP provides crucial coverage for families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but can’t afford private insurance.

CHIP covers immunizations, check-ups, and prenatal care at little to no cost.

Some states have more funds than others, but at least 11 will run out of funding by the end of January if Congress doesn’t act and Republicans who control the legislative branch show no sign of moving.

A Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services analysis says a majority of states will “exhaust all available federal CHIP funding” by March, 2018.

Arizona, California, Oregon, Ohio, and Minnesota have indicated that the situation is extremely dire—their funds are projected to run out “before” or “shortly after” December.

At least six states — Arizona, California, the District of Columbia, Minnesota, Ohio and Oregon — are predicting they will run out of money by the end of the year or early in January.

Another six other states — Colorado, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Washington — have announced intentions to take action before the end of the year even if funding is not depleted by then.

CHIP, which provided health care to nearly 9 million children in 2016, built on Medicaid’s success and sparked a national effort to reduce the rate of uninsured children. More recently, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) contributed to an increase in health coverage and as a result the rate of uninsured children reached an historic low of 4.5 percent in 2016.

New Jersey has 230,960 children who depend on CHIP, including 101,214 who are insured by Medicaid with the federal funding and another 129,746 who are insured through another system.


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