Congress must fund Children's Health Insurance Program

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A top Republican state senator is warning that Florida will not able to keep a major children's health-insurance program running if Congress doesn't authorize additional money in the near future.

You may recall the news from a few days ago that extending the Children's Health Insurance Program would cost only $0.8 billion, which should make it very easy to pass.

In a bipartisan appeal on behalf of the National Governors Association, Republican Gov. Charlie Baker of MA and Democratic Gov. Kate Brown of OR called on Congress - after it allowed CHIP and community health center funding to lapse previous year - to consider the "urgent needs of states and families" by restoring money. A second analysis, released publicly on Thursday, projects $6 billion in savings if Congress funds the program for 10 years. It's a drastic step, since the federal government pays, on average, almost 90 percent of CHIP costs.

While members of Congress on both sides of the aisle insist that CHIP must be reauthorized, GOP leaders have yet to even schedule a vote, and the program has been stuck in limbo for months amid disagreements about how to pay for it.

A 2014 report by Health Affairs comparing Medicaid and CHIP coverage to employer-sponsored insurance, revealed that families enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP fared better in medical bill repayments than families with private insurance (10 percent versus 19 percent). Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) tweeted Wednesday. Orrin Hatch, who heads the Senate's Finance Committee, CBO Director Keith Hall said that a five-year extension of CHIP would cost the government $800 million over a 10-year period.

As Republicans on Capitol Hill spent much of the fall cobbling together a tax reform package, Democrats criticized them for missing a September deadline without replenishing CHIP.

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"This uncertainty and the ongoing inaction by Congress increases the likelihood that states will take action to prepare families for the worst". "Meanwhile, Colorado and CT families received letters informing them that their children may soon lose CHIP coverage".

CHIP needs to regain long-term funding.

Also on Friday, we learned that the price tag for extending CHIP for five years has shrunk dramatically.

"The short term patch that lawmakers included in an end-of-year funding deal only provides momentary relief", the organization wrote.

A third of the states anticipate running out of funds by the end of January, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

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