Future of All Kids Insurance Program in Jeopardy

University of Chicago medical students rally for reauthorization

Citing U.S. Congress' failure to restore federal funding of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Alabama plans to drop 7,000 children from coverage on New Year's Day, the first step to shutting down coverage for everyone, state officials said 18 December.

Nationwide, CHIP covers more than 9 million children - typically from families not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid, the state-federal program that covers low-income people.

The obstructionist attitude toward CHIP on the part of the self-proclaimed "family values party" is egregious because that same Congress, in a completely partisan vote, just this week lowered taxes on businesses and the wealthy amounting to far more money than would be needed to continue funding the program nationally (approximately $15 billion).

Democrats and Republicans agree that finances for the Children's Health Insurance Program should be renewed for five years, but they've clashed over how to pay for it. Those children will keep their health care, but the state will have to pick up the cost of their coverage. "They won't let us", Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in an interview, asserting that Democrats had blocked a multiyear extension.

Congress owes it to our kids to swiftly and immediately fully fund CHIP before they head home for the holidays.

Some states that are almost out of money are preparing to freeze enrollment or cancel CHIP coverage if lawmakers don't soon reach a deal. Our funds are now being shared with states like Arizona and Utah, where funding has already run out and where families are receiving mailed notices letting them know their children may lose health coverage. "It's just awesome that now we're going to have or potentially have more people without health insurance", Rep. England said.

Those states join Colorado, Utah and Oklahoma, which have already warned that coverage may end or be reduced in coming months.

This is now considered the longest lapse in funding in the program's history.

Mallory McManus, a spokeswoman for the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, said the state was "closely monitoring" to see if Congress will restore the money. The 20-year-old program cost about $15.6 billion in fiscal 2016, funded nearly entirely by the federal government. Alabama has one of the broadest eligibility levels - 317 percent of the poverty level, or $78,000 for a family of four. "The family does not have to make that decision of health care versus the bills and food for the family; Community Health Net will be there". Connecticut, meanwhile, said it will discontinue its HUSKY B program on January 31.

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