Health insurance program for thousands of Arizona kids at risk

Health insurance program for thousands of Arizona kids at risk

Kerry Wise
October 5, 2017

All of this goes a long way in giving kids a quality of life they simply would not have if they could not go to the doctor regularly simply due to their families' income - that, of course, helps to control health care costs long-term, as well. It was influential in letting down the percentage of children who were not insured from almost 14 percent when it started to 4.5 percent in 2015. While that seems like a lot to you and me, the overall federal budget is $4 trillion - making CHIP an itty-bitty drop in the bucket. She added that other bills circling Congress, including the proposed tax cuts, don't suggest ways of paying for them. The program's champions include some local elected leaders. Even rank-and-file Republicans were unsure of why, a GOP Congressional aide told the Tribune. Its impacts have been far reaching; a 2014 Kaiser Family Foundation report summarized the research on its effectiveness, finding "strong evidence" that the program expanded the number of children who had coverage, increased the quality of the care they received, strengthened low-income families' finances and even bolstered student performance based on improvements to children's health. CHIP is a partnership between states and the federal government that since 1997 has extended health care to millions who would otherwise have no access to care.

"CHIP is a critical part of the health care safety net in Texas", wrote Health and Human Services Commission Chief Deputy Executive Commissioner Cecile Erwin Young in a September 26 letter.

EW: The federal government requires the state to provide CHIP coverage to a certain segment of the population, whether or not the federal funding is actually there. "It's kids from working family that don't have access to health insurance through their jobs", says SIU Pediatric School of Medicine Chair Dr. Douglas Carlson. In fact, if funding is not soon restored, states will quickly drain what little money they have left for CHIP. Montana is one of the states where CHIP funding would run out faster than other states, is that right?

Brent Wilborn, director of public policy at the Oklahoma Primary Care Association, said most community health centers have enough funding to continue operating through the end of December, but uncertainty about their budgets could make it hard to plan.

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Authorization for federal funding for the program, known by its acronym CHIP, expired last weekend.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee also said it would consider legislation to reauthorize CHIP sometime in early October.

Sources on the House side say they are optimistic that both chambers will be able to strike a deal by Wednesday of this week, but as with all things on Capitol Hill in recent years, there are no guarantees. Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) have also introduced legislation to extend community health center funding another five years. It covers everything from dental and eye care to immunizations to emergency visits and more. One of them is U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans of Philadelphia.

Tester doesn't expect the Senate effort to make it out of committee this week, and the Senate is out next week. "I never thought [CHIP] would be used a slush fund and am very disappointed", Hatch said. "We're going to have to do something".