More Kids Have Insurance But Advocates Fear For The Future


Congress has allowed funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program to expire, according to The Washington Post.

Congressional authorization for the Children's Health Insurance Program, which provides low-cost health insurance for children from low- and middle-income families, expired September 30.

Under changes under the Affordable Care Act, 31,000 kids on Medicaid began receiving CHIP funding for their insurance, bringing the total amount of kids benefiting from CHIP in the state to more than 79,000. Mississippi's Division of Medicaid, which administers the program in the state, said Congress should quickly authorize the funding.

To become eligible, the children must be residents of Alabama and be, otherwise, uninsured.

HO: For a family of four, that income level is about $64,000 a year.

The program, created in 1997 and adopted in Texas in 1999, has cut the percentage of uninsured children nationwide from 25 percent in 1997 to 5 percent in 2015. States have the option to cover pregnant women, and 19 do so. In addition, Minnesota would face new budget pressures if officials were forced to move 125,000 now in CHIP to Medicaid. Van Ramshorst said that 70 to 80 percent of UHS' patient population receives either Medicaid or CHIP funding. To put this a little clearer, kids under this program will be unable to see a doctor for annual checkups, immunizations, illness and other services. The program's champions include some local elected leaders. Even rank-and-file Republicans were unsure of why, a GOP Congressional aide told the Tribune.

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If you think about the demographics and income levels of many of those accessing CHIP, many of these parents are working at low wages, and oftentimes don't have health insurance coverage through their employer. Though CHIP in general is popular, there are details enough in the reauthorization to trip up this Congress.

But that is unlikely, given that the Republican-controlled Legislature balked past year at renewing the program even with no state dollars needed. Several states are expected to run out of money before the end of 2017, and most of the rest will run out by next summer. "The problem is one of benign neglect in that (Congress) assumes wrongly that states can continue without renewed funding right away and they assume dangerously that members of Congress will eventually come together to do the right thing but not making an urgent plan to ensure it's so", Dr. Karen Remley, CEO of American Academy of Pediatrics, said in a statement. Now there's a scramble, both in Congress and in the states, over how to maintain the coverage. The last renewal was in 2015, for two years.

"This is some good news", she said.

Nothing is changing immediately at SouthEast, and Shirk noted that U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden said his committee will mark up a bill to extend funding for CHIP, health centers and other programs this week, which in her words is "a crucial development". But the House hasn't figured out how to pay for it yet either, and particularly in that chamber, an agreement by the leadership has been no guarantee recently of ultimate success.

The Children's Health Insurance Program, which was created in 1997 and passed with bipartisan support, provides cheap health insurance to low income children whose income levels make them ineligible for Medicaid.

The CHIP program has tended to have broad bipartisan support.