Congress misses CHIP funding deadline; Advocate calls for bipartisan push to extend coverage

10/02/2017 03:20 PM

Despite a bill moving through the U.S. Senate Finance Committee in September, Congress missed a key health insurance funding deadline which puts 100,000 Kentucky kids and 9 million kids around the nation in jeopardy.

Funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program known as CHIP, or KCHIP in Kentucky provides low-cost health coverage for children in families with low and moderate income. The bipartisan program was passed in 1997, renewed in 2015 and set to be renewed on Sept. 30, 2017 – before Congress failed to take action.

Traditionally the federal government and states share costs of the program, with the federal government carrying the lion’s share in Kentucky. The Affordable Care Act increased the federal share in each state by 23 percentage points, according to the New York Times. In Kentucky the result is that the federal government pays nearly the entire cost.

According to the Washington Post, the program costed the federal government around $13.6 billion in 2016. The program provides services like: checkups, immunizations, prescriptions, dental and vision care for kids in need.

Dr. Terry Brooks, the executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, said somehow a bill extending the measure got lost in the shuffle in DC as Congress became embroiled in the latest fight to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act — which again failed before it could reach a vote in the Senate.

“I get it. Washington D.C. is filled with partisan toxicity and ambiguity when it comes to the repeal and replace of the Affordable Care Act and an array of related battles,” Brooks said. “However, kids should not pay the price for partisan politics.”

Brooks said that it’s not too late to still save the program, and he’s calling for a bipartisan push to extend funding for CHIP.

“Though leaders in Washington may assert that states should shoulder this vital coverage for children, the federal government cannot expect an already strapped state budget to absorb the costs of the program,” he said. “And Washington cannot turn its back to the families counting on CHIP to ensure better health outcomes for their sons and daughters.

“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has a track record of standing tall for kids. We need him to protect CHIP – and our kids – from being a casualty in the never-ending Washington D.C. health care debate,” Brooks continued. “Congress must extend CHIP funding with declarative and immediate action!”


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