Hickenlooper asks for $9.6M for children's health insurance

Lawmakers OK emergency funding for kids' health insurance

The Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) was created in 1997 to ensure that children of parents who earned too much money to qualify for Medicaid but couldn't afford health insurance received medical care.

CHIP also provides health insurance for an expanded pool of people younger than 21 who drank lead-contaminated water from Flint since April 2014, as well as any pregnant women who were served the water, and the children born to them. The Affordable Care Act increased the federal share of funding for CHIP by 23 percentage points beginning in 2015, which means a few states now have their entire CHIP programs paid for by the federal government and most are at 88 percent.

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MI lawmakers are pushing Congress to reauthorize federal funding that pays for health insurance for almost 9 million children, including 116,000 lower-income children in MI, before year's end. Those children will keep their health care, but the state will have to pick up the cost of their coverage. An immediate, long-term extension of funding for CHIP must be passed now.

Colorado, Virginia and other states recently began sending letters to parents notifying them that officials may soon have to curtail their CHIP programs. According to a survey the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation conducted in November and released this month, 14 states were planning to end or phase out coverage for children, including five by the end of January.

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Rep. England said the state of Alabama doesn't have the money to pay for the program alone.

Governors in 12 states have written to congress urging renewal, but Governor Rick Scott was not among them even though Florida could run out of dollars within the next 30 days.

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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which oversees CHIP, has been redistributing billions in unspent funds during the past 2½ months while lawmakers work on the issue to help states keep their programs running. She said officials were "considering all our options" for possibly losing federal funds. The 17,000 youths in CT would have to find another - more expensive - way to find health insurance if the program vaporizes. The 20-year-old program cost about $15.6 billion in fiscal 2016, funded nearly entirely by the federal government. No family should go through the holiday season worrying about how to pay for their child's health care or be forced to make choices about whether or not to see the doctor or go without the medication they need. Connecticut, meanwhile, said it will discontinue its HUSKY B program on January 31.

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