UPDATE: Congress' stop-gap spending bill will provide $2.85 billion for CHIP through March, which is less than a previously promised five years' worth of funding, The New York Times reports. The bill to keep the federal government operating through Jan. 19 also requires the secretary of health and human services to prioritize the distribution of remaining funds to states with the greatest need.
- For 20 years, the state-run Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) has provided medical, dental and vision coverage for children in families who earn too much for Medicaid but don’t have or can’t afford private insurance. Now, families will have to wait until next year to find out if funding for the program will continue, New York magazine reports.
- The program will run out of money in early 2018 if Congress doesn’t find a way to extend funding, and some states have already issued statements indicating that they are no longer enrolling children in the program and that current recipients might soon lose coverage.
- The House passed a bill in early November that provided funding for the program, which covers about nine million children, but Democrats are opposed to its provisions, which include raising premiums on Medicare recipients. The Senate Finance Committee also approved an extension earlier this fall, but didn’t specify how the program would be funded, according to The New York Times.
In a statement released Wednesday, Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Susan Collins (R-ME) said, "Rather than considering a broad year-end funding agreement as we expected, it has become clear that Congress will only be able to pass another short-term extension to prevent a government shutdown and to continue a few essential programs.” The statement also said that the Senate would consider an omnibus spending bill, CHIP and funding for community health centers after the first of the year.
School administrators know that children who are sick or have chronic health conditions are among those most likely to be absent. Research on the impact of CHIP shows that between 1997 and 2012, the rate of uninsured children dropped from 14% to 7%, has reduced health disparities and has been especially beneficial to children with disabilities because it covers physical, speech, language and occupational therapy,
Loss of the program, which has long received bipartisan support, would affect young children even more than older children, according to a new analysis by the Urban Institute, which shows that nearly half of the 15.7 million children under age 3 are covered through CHIP, ranging from 27.7% of children in age range in North Dakota to almost 65% in New Mexico.