UPDATED OCT. 12, 2017 — Legislation to renew funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program has stalled in the U.S. House as lawmakers continue debating how to pay for the program. This is the third delay requested by the Democrats as the lawmakers now work to mark up the legislation to extend funding for critical programs other than CHIP, such as Community Health Centers and to provide an additional $1 billion to Puerto Rico’s Medicaid program.
Both parties agree on the urgency of passing a CHIP bill. Federal funding for the program expired Sept. 30, and the longer Congress delays taking action, the tougher it will be on states.
Eleven states anticipate they will burn through their federal funding by the end of 2017, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, and 32 states project they will exhaust federal funds by the end of March 2018.
OCTOBER 6, 2017 — After being unable to come together to meet a Sept. 30 deadline that would have renewed funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program for five years, lawmakers in Washington were back at the drawing board this week looking for solutions to ensure federal funding for CHIP even though the Senate Finance Committee reached a bipartisan deal in mid-September to extend funding for five years.
Earlier in September, the U.S. Senate Finance Committee reached an estimated $8 billion bipartisan agreement to renew CHIP funding for five years and phase out the 23 percent Obamacare funding bump. States would have maintained eligibility through 2019, and after that there would be no so-called maintenance of effort for children of parents with incomes more than 300 percent of the federal poverty level.
The Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission has estimated that all states will exhaust their federal CHIP reserves in 2018 without an extension but warns that an extension alone will not be enough.
“If Congress extends funding but does not include the 23 percentage-point increase in the federal matching rate that was provided in the ACA, most states will still face shortfalls, since many assumed continued funding with the enhanced match rate,” it noted.
In Alabama, CHIP funding is split between Alabama Medicaid and the Alabama Department of Public Health. ADPH administers the ALL Kids program, which covers about 83,000 of Alabama’s children, while Medicaid provides covers for an additional 70,000 children.
The Medical Association, the Alabama Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, state lawmakers and a number of organizations advocating for children’s health care petitioned the Alabama Congressional Delegation to support reauthorization of a bipartisan CHIP funding bill before the Sept. 30 deadline. In a letter to the Alabama Congressional Delegation outlining support for CHIP reauthorization, the coalition cited the great strides made possible through CHIP in ensuring children have access to the care they need. As well, any reductions in federal CHIP funding could cause problems for not only Alabama’s ALL Kids program but also children enrolled in Alabama Medicaid.