Cleveland Plain Dealer: Restore long-term funding for children's health programs

Leslie Hanson
January 12, 2018

Federal budget watchdogs have drastically lowered their estimate of what it will take to fund the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) because of 3 factors related to tax law changes affecting the Affordable Care Act at the end of previous year that basically make it cheaper to insure children through CHIP than through insurance marketplaces.

Kaiser Health News is a nonprofit news service covering health issues.

Almost 1.7 million out of the 9 million children served by CHIP each year could lose healthcare coverage by the end of February if Congress fails to pass legislation to reauthorize the program, according to a new report from Georgetown University's Center for Children and Families.

All five members of West Virginia's congressional delegation have said they support CHIP funding.

Extending CHIP for 10 years would save a total of $6 billion, CBO staffers said.

That may have gotten easier with a January 5 estimate showing that a Senate bill to extend CHIP would increase deficits by $800 million over 10 years, far lower than the previous projection of more than $8 billion.

Dr. Joanne Hilden, a pediatric cancer physician in Aurora, Colo., and past president of the American Society of Hematology-Oncology, said cancer patients who are anxious their CHIP funding will run out can't schedule care ahead of time.

A five-year reauthorization of the program, which costs the federal government about $14.5 billion a year, has bipartisan support. Republicans proposed a series of deeply partisan spending cuts to cover the costs of extending CHIP, such as slashing Obamacare programs and Medicare. "There, once you've covered your kids, it's basically free to cover yourself on the same policy, because of how the premium tax credits work". Failing to act now shows the true face of Republicans & their donor-driven immoral agenda.

Navsaria also worries that many parents will be surprised if their children are suddenly without coverage.

Still, Democrats are seizing on the new information from CBO to push for swift renewal of CHIP, saying the past arguments about offsetting its cost are now irrelevant.

California enjoys a $19 billion surplus this year.

Dr. Todd Wolynn, a Pittsburgh pediatrician, said families are reacting with "fear and disbelief" to CHIP's uncertain future.

If Congress does not fully fund CHIP and MassHealth maintained the current program, MA would lose out on an estimated $147.5 million in fiscal 2018 and $295 million annually starting in fiscal 2019, according to the Office of Health and Human Services.

"CHIP has never operated like this before-on a short-term, month-by-month basis".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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