Congress should follow Hickenlooper's leadership on CHIP


"Congress must take immediate action in order to ensure continuous coverage for the roughly 9 million children benefiting from this program nationwide", Katko, R-Camillus, said.

But in a letter to recipients sent earlier this month, the state notified them that the money will dry up and the program will end January 31 without a move by Congress. CMS officials did not respond to requests made 18 December about when those dollars would run out.

As Christmas approaches many families in Idaho who rely on the Childrens Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for affordable, comprehensive healthcare for their children are worrying about whether that coverage will continue in 2018. Virginia has also put parents on notice that coverage could end soon. CHIP has played a critical role in reducing the number of uninsured children by more than 68 percent, from almost 15 percent in 1997 to less than five percent in 2015, while improving health outcomes and access to care for children and pregnant women. In Idaho, CHIP funding may last until the end of January, but theres no guarantee for the rest of the year.

"Congress needs to get its act together and start working for everyday people and especially the children, not big corporations".

But as Congress rushed Thursday to pass short-term pending legislation preventing a weekend federal shutdown and leave town for the holidays, unsettled disputes over health care, immigration and other issues fell by the wayside for lawmakers to address next year.

But another 3.7 million kids live in states that can simply terminate the policies, and 1.2 million of them could become uninsured if they can't afford alternate coverage, according to the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission.

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Alabama's rate fell from 20 percent to 2.5 percent, Caldwell says.

For 20 years, the program worked swimmingly - eventually covering 95 percent of the nation's children, or 8.4 million, including 172,000 beneficiaries in MA. It's problematic, says center director Joan Alker and there are few alternatives.

He says freezing enrollment and ending coverage would undo years of expanded coverage.

Congress hasn't acted to renew the program that expired September 30. And a measure that would reauthorize it for five more years is wrapped up in partisan gridlock in Congress over an end-of-year spending bill. If they don't want to pay, they don't have to enroll.

This story originally appeared on Kaiser Health News.