PD Editorial: Congress' inaction puts health plan for kids in jeopardy

The benefits of CHIP are profound and have a ripple effect. By ensuring adequate care CHIP eliminates a major factor that keeps children from attending and excelling at school and thriving in our society

They allowed funding to expire for the CHIP program, which provides health insurance for nine million children here in the United States.

Medicaid officials this week said they were trying to calculate how much it would cost the state to continue providing the health care.

House Republicans on Tuesday proposed a five-year extension of the program.

Utah, where CHIP is provided to 19,000 children, has requested to "eliminate eligibility and services under CHIP" if further funding is not provided. However, a New Jersey state human services agency spokeswoman said benefits for Garden State children should be covered until sometime this spring. By 2015, that rate decreased to 4.5 percent. "We are and will continue to work closely with Connect for Health Colorado in case Congress does not act in the next four months, as some of the individuals now covered by CHP+ could qualify for financial assistance to purchase a health plan offered by the marketplace". "Still, Congress needs to reauthorize this program quickly, and I am hopeful we will have a bill in front of us for a vote soon". The program was revived past year and now covers a little more than 22,000 children.

In West Virginia, the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) said the program would be sustainable through April 2018.

"West Virginia children are enrolled in CHIP and to let this funding expire is nothing short of negligent", Manchin said in a statement. "The costs are different in each state, but you won't have to pay more than 5% of your family's income for the year". A government report says Arizona, Minnesota, North Carolina and Washington, D.C., could run out of funds by the end of this year.

"It's tantamount to Mother Nature's atomic bomb, and we're doing very little", said Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.), who chairs the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, asking her colleagues to expedite aid to the USA territory last week. The program is administered by the states, and they generally have leftover funds from previous years.

Like Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program is paid for by a combination of federal and state funds. Parents often had to delay care while their children were uninsured and reported difficulties obtaining prescription medications for their children. Previously, some states closed enrollment in CHIP for limited periods in response to state budget pressures, and studies show that this led to coverage losses, left eligible individuals without access to coverage, and had negative effects on health and family finances.

The fate of the Affordable Care Act may be deeply divisive, but there's one aspect of the health care system that retains broad support across the political spectrum - the Children's Health Insurance Program.

"The time deadline for re-authorization may slip from September 30 and be part of the year-end package of negotiations that we expect on or around December 8", said Cornyn in a statement. "We aren't in a place right now where we make enough money we can go buy insurance". But the debate over how to fund it, coupled with the recent dysfunction of Congress, leaves the question of whether it can be restored - and how quickly - up in the air.

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