Federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) expired on September 30, 2017, putting health insurance coverage at risk for 8.9 million children in working families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but cannot afford or access private coverage.
Congressional Republicans claimed that they didn’t want this to happen, but they got so caught up trying to cut taxes on corporations, they failed to renew CHIP before heading home for the holidays.
“This is the ultimate bad Christmas Carol story. This may be the most shameful day in the history of Congress,” said Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier, arguing that her Republican colleagues had chosen to leave a lump of coal in low-income kids’ stockings.
Alabama stopped allowing new children to enroll in its CHIP program, while Connecticut and Colorado will shutter their programs on January 31, if Washington does not provide new funds.
About three-quarters of the states anticipate exhausting funding by the end of March and several governors have begun notifying families about coverage reductions.
In November, 16 states projected they will exhaust federal funds by the end of January, and an additional 21 states said they would run out of money by the end of March.
Any further delay in congressional action is likely to result in confusion among families that could lead to coverage losses and administrative costs even if funding is extended in the next few weeks.
Provided by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) matching rate for CHIP coverage, relative to Medicaid, was increased by 23 percent under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Many states are planning to reduce coverage in response to the loss of federal funding and a total of 14 states reported plans to terminate or phase out coverage for children.
“The Republicans want to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, because they think it’s more important to give a trillion dollar tax cut to millionaires and billionaires than to help families in need,” said Lisa McCormick, a New Jersey Democrat. “Leaving millions of children without health coverage is just another sign of their disdain for Americans.”
Republicans were willing to add $1.5 trillion to the debt to pay for corporate tax cuts, but they refuse to appropriate the $75 billion required to cover CHIP for five years. Instead, they insist on financing children’s health care with cuts to other people’s medical benefits.
Republicans are transferring trillions of dollars to the wealthiest people in America while sentencing children to die because their parents work in jobs that leave them too poor to buy health insurance.
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