Children’s Health Program Hangs in the Balance, Officials Worried

With the Children’s Health Insurance Program remaining uncertain in Congress, both parents and state officials are getting increasingly worried and less optimistic.

According to a new report from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, about 2 million children could be left without health coverage as early as next month, while another 1 million would lose coverage by February if Congress doesn’t renew the program, Politico says.

“We’re in a terrible situation right now,” Linda Nablo, the chief deputy director of the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services, said. Almost 70,000 children and more than 1000 pregnant women in Virginia could also lose CHIP coverage if funding is not extended.

Federal funds for CHIP expired on September 30, and a funding measure in Congress has since been delayed due to partisan disagreements. On Wednesday it became evident that a resolution on CHIP could be delayed even further, pushing it into mid-January.

Nablo also indicated that her state, Virginia, may have less money than previously estimated an as a result might be unable to provide coverage all through January. Alabama, as well, is struggling with funding.

“We definitely are facing some really difficult decisions in our state right now. It’s just very, very stressful here,” Alabama CHIP Director Cathy Caldwell said.

Nablo said Congress was “naive” to think that providing new funds could be postponed for the last minute.

“They totally ignore the fact that these are large health care programs and they must be managed. You don’t just wait until the day before the last dollar is spent,” she said.

Congress intended to address CHIP funding in a year-end government bill, but the temporary spending deal which the government is considering now will put it off for January.

Both chambers have agreed on extending the CHIP program for five years but Democrats have rejected Republican plans to pay for the CHIP extension by cutting other health programs.


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