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

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

Lawmakers' promises they'll soon renew the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) are of little comfort to millions of children in the U.S. It is January 11, 2018, and nine million children are still in limbo because Congress will not reauthorize the health Insurance program.

The House passed a bill in November extending CHIP for five more years, but the Senate has yet to do so.

The mechanics are wonky, but this is the gist: Repealing the mandate increases ACA premiums; because ACA coverage is the alternative to CHIP for many kids, it would cost the federal government more if CHIP were to end and those children moved to the ACA markets.

He has seen couples divorce just to qualify for Medicaid coverage, something he fears will happen if the Children's Health Insurance Program is axed.

But Matthew Fiedler, an economist at Brookings' Center for Health Policy, told TPM that this not much of a cause for celebration, as part of the reason for the new, lower cost of CHIP is the expectation that many more parents around the country will go uninsured.

Congress approved $2.85 billion for the program before Christmas, hoping it would last though March.

Federal pot policy change sparks confusion, crackdown fears
To say this is an established industry with thousands of people and livelihoods depending on it would be an understatement. Federal prosecutors are not elected, but they often have long histories working in their districts.

Had that accident happened this year, though, Natali, 50, of Aliquippa, Pa., might be scrambling. Any spending bill that Congress takes up must include long-term funding for CHIP.

Dr. Todd Wolynn, a Pittsburgh pediatrician, said families are reacting with "fear and disbelief" to CHIP's uncertain future. The group practice hasn't changed any scheduling for CHIP patients, but he said "families are terrified" about the coverage disappearing. So, if Congress doesn't fully fund CHIP, Ohio's percentage share of CHIP costs would rise steeply.

"These families don't know if the rug is being pulled out from them at any time", he said. It provides health coverage for millions of kids, including almost 115,000 children from Indiana.

"While the balance in the redistribution pool may be sufficient to cover February shortfalls enabling all states to cover children through February, it has become increasingly hard to predict how long funds will last for any particular state", the center concluded (PDF). "We have 2.6 million children who are enrolled in the Florida KidCare program, including the Medicaid (children)".

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, said she's frustrated with Congress for not making the bill a priority. It is an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation that is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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