Sunday, 21 October, 2018

As tax bill celebrated, funding for 100000 Tenn. kids' healthcare lingers

Congress provides short-term funding for children's health insurance As tax bill celebrated, funding for 100000 Tenn. kids' healthcare lingers
Delia Stanley | 22 December, 2017, 02:11

11,000 kids here in the Lehigh Valley are covered by the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and almost 180,000 are covered state wide. CHIP provides health coverage for children under 18 whose families earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but still don't make enough to afford private insurance, or aren't covered through employers.

Democrats and Republicans agree that finances for the Children's Health Insurance Program should be renewed for five years, but they've clashed over how to pay for it. "What GOP completely ignores: Extending #CHIP - health care for our children".

Colorado, Virginia and other states recently began sending letters to parents notifying them that officials may soon have to curtail their CHIP programs. Our funds are now being shared with states like Arizona and Utah, where funding has already run out and where families are receiving mailed notices letting them know their children may lose health coverage.

Although Congress has stepped in and provided eleventh-hour money twice in recent months, the will-they-or-won't-they drama has put pressure on state officials about how to respond. Since then, some states have relied on unspent funds to keep it going.

The chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Greg Walden of OR, said last week that the CHIP extension will be included in the short-term government funding bill to be considered by lawmakers later this week.

But in a letter to recipients sent earlier this month, the state notified them that the money will dry up and the program will end January 31 without a move by Congress.

For 20 years, the program worked swimmingly - eventually covering 95 percent of the nation's children, or 8.4 million, including 172,000 beneficiaries in MA.

States are expecting to know the program's fate by Friday.

While both Republicans and Democrats say they support fully funding CHIP, they differ in how to pay for it. Alabama has one of the broadest eligibility levels - 317 percent of the poverty level, or $78,000 for a family of four.

But as Congress rushed Thursday to pass short-term pending legislation preventing a weekend federal shutdown and leave town for the holidays, unsettled disputes over health care, immigration and other issues fell by the wayside for lawmakers to address next year.

The House and Senate must approve a continuing resolution to fund the government before the end of the week. Connecticut, meanwhile, said it will discontinue its HUSKY B program on January 31.

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