Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
Medicine | By Melba Vasquez

Cleveland Plain Dealer: Restore long-term funding for children's health programs

Cleveland Plain Dealer: Restore long-term funding for children's health programs

"We must reauthorize the Children's Health Insurance Program - also known as CHIP - that expired in September".

Jones became the 24 co-sponsor of the bill, the Keep Kids' Insurance Dependable and Secure (KIDS) Act of 2017.

Almost 1.7 million out of the 9 million children served by CHIP each year could lose healthcare coverage by the end of February if Congress fails to pass legislation to reauthorize the program, according to a new report from Georgetown University's Center for Children and Families.

Essentially, killing the mandate dramatically raises premiums in Obamacare's individual market, which is where millions of low-income families now enrolled in CHIP would have to turn were the program to disappear.

In Ohio, covering the 200,000 children enrolled in CHIP costs about $45 million a month - a cost Ohio funds via Medicaid.

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The dynamics involved are complicated, and include the effects of eliminating the Obamacare individual mandate as well as reductions in the federal matching rate for CHIP that kick in over time, but the CBO's conclusion is getting attention in Congress, which has been unable to agree on how to fund the program. But after Congress approved a short-term spending plan on December 21, ALL Kids withdrew those warnings for the time being.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that an extension of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) would cost the government $800 million over 10 years.

Extending CHIP for 10 years would save a total of $6 billion, CBO staffers said.

Walker, head of Delaware Health and Social Services, said she is in "complete disappointment and disgust" with how Congress has handled the re-authorization of CHIP.

According to the 2018-19 budget proposal for California: "Coverage for approximately 32,000 pregnant women and children [in California] is at risk if CHIP funding is not provided beyond March 2018 because they do not qualify for federally funded, full-scope [Medicaid]".

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Alabama and Utah are among the states unsure how long their federal CHIP funding will last, according to interviews with state officials. Another 13 states are expected to run out of funds the following month.

CHIP needs to regain long-term funding.

Dr. Todd Wolynn, a Pittsburgh pediatrician, said families are reacting with "fear and disbelief" to CHIP's uncertain future.

In his 35 years of practice, Patel, of San Antonio, has seen the lengths to which parents will go for their critically ill children. The group practice hasn't changed any scheduling for CHIP patients, but he said "families are terrified" about the program having to be terminated. It works to safeguard the health of children, and long has enjoyed bipartisan support.

"These families don't know if the rug is being pulled out from them at any time", he said. "We will have to decide between their health and spending the money on something else", she said.

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