Kids' federal health insurance funds expire

THERE MUST BE SOMETHING WE'RE FORGETTING? Congress neglected to pass an extension of a program that provides health insurance coverage for 9 million children last week as it grappled with a GOP Obamacare repeal bill

More than 22,000 children in the state have health insurance through KidsCare, which is the state's version of the federal Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Among them: the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), created 20 years ago with bipartisan support to help kids from low- and moderate-income families. With private insurance so expensive and Medicaid eligibility levels so minuscule, many families used CHIP as a bridge to affordable care.

In some states, where CHIP operates autonomously from Medicaid, the program could be shut down completely as soon as the federal funds run out; Arizona actually has a law requiring it. Maryland's program is structured differently, and the state would not be allowed under federal Medicaid maintenance of effort rules to kick kids out of the program without federal approval. In other words, our state could be one of many states facing a funding shortfall in this area if Congress does not extend federal funding. But unlike other Medicaid recipients, these children's care is 100 percent funded with no state contribution.

Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, is on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees the CHIP program, and he has been pushing for a five-year extension, said Joe Hand, a spokesman.

The Children's Health Insurance Program expired at the end of September without congressional reauthorization. It helps states support children whose parents are not eligible for Medicaid, but can not afford insurance for their children. We are hopeful that Congress will act, and hopefully act quickly to restore the program's funding. In 2006 and 2007, Congress increased funding for the program, but was unable to find Executive Branch support for reauthorization. Others have said they will soon run out of money for it. It was originally co-sponsored by [Utah Senator Orrin] Hatch, a Republican, and the late [Massachusetts Senator] Ted Kennedy", the New Republic explains, adding, "M$3 ost Democrats and Republicans agree that the program is a successful one. It's a federal-state program that covers about 9 million children and pregnant women who do not otherwise qualify for Medicaid (typically because their incomes are a bit higher than Medicaid allows).

HO: Absolutely. I mean we have certainly seen the children's health insurance plan play an important role in children's access to health coverage.

Nationwide, an estimated nine million children are covered by CHIP, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

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Anderson said the state has not yet spent its allotment. CHIP funds are expected to cease at the end of October, but Texas will be able to stretch its funding until 2018, according to Joyce Mauk, medical director of the Texas Pediatric Society.

"I think they kind of got derailed by Graham-Cassidy this week", Capriotti said.

The law does allow the use of unspent funds from prior years, so states are now relying on those accounts. Significant differences between the two bills, including how to fund CHIP moving forward, remain.

The media is paying attention, even if the Congress is not.

A committee hearing is set for tomorrow to reauthorize funding for another five years.

Garcia said coverage remains available so long as people keep up with their renewals and funding for the program gets found. Renewal dates for families in counties affected by Hurricane Harvey have been pushed back by 6 months, she said.

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