Published: Fri, December 22, 2017
Medical | By Josefina Yates

Katko, NY reps urge House leaders to renew children's health insurance program

Katko, NY reps urge House leaders to renew children's health insurance program

Funding for what is called the Children's Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, ran out earlier this fall.

"Tens of thousands of Alabama working families learned today - one week before Christmas - that their children will lose health insurance February 1 if Congress continues to delay funding" for the program, said Jim Carnes, policy director of the Arise Citizens' Policy Project, an advocacy group for low-income families.

CHIP funding expired at the end of September.

For a woman learning of an unintended pregnancy and facing the daunting reality of thousands of dollars in medical bills for prenatal care and delivery, unpaid family leave when the child is born, and uncertainty about health insurance coverage for their newborn, learning that CHIP is available to take care of two of those concerns is a small blessing. "What GOP completely ignores: Extending #CHIP - health care for our children". "They control Congress", said Tennessee House Democratic Caucus Chair Mike Stewart.

With no long-term funding agreement imminent, growing numbers of states have begun edging toward depleting their federal funds and commencing steps to cope with that.

More news: WWE Clash of Champions 2017: 3 Possible Upsets on the Horizon

"I'm very, very concerned that we are going to be in a situation where, over the holidays, we at the department are going to have to send letters to families letting them know that their child is no longer going to have health insurance", she said.

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.

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. Even Jimmy Kimmel urged Americans to tell their representatives to fund the program. Federal money pays for nearly 90 percent of that. The Senate has not voted, but Democrats there also refuse to tie any CHIP extension to higher Medicare premiums or siphoning money from the public health fund. In spite of having every opportunity to reauthorize this bipartisan program, Congress has prioritized tax breaks for the wealthy and put CHIP at the back of the line.

Income eligibility levels for CHIP vary widely among states, though most set thresholds at or below 200 percent of the poverty level, about $49,000 for a family of four.

Instead, the short-term bill includes $2.9 billion for states to use for children's health plus authority for federal officials to continue distributing unspent program money to states running short.

Like this: