House-Passed CHIP Package Continues to Sit in Senate
WASHINGTON, DC – In recent weeks, several state governors have called on Congress to take quick action to extend federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). In doing so, governors from both parties have warned that additional delays in extending this critical funding would lead to disruptions in coverage for thousands of children and their families.
The House acted last month, passing H.R 3922, the CHAMPIONING HEALTHY KIDS Act, by a bipartisan vote. H.R. 3922 included: a five-year extension of CHIP, a two-year extension of Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) or Community Health Centers, and a two-year extension for additional public health programs. The House is ready to act, yet again, to send a long-term extension of CHIP and critical public health extenders to the Senate this week. It’s time the Senate follows suit.
The governors’ letters come at a time when multiple state programs have warned about forthcoming program changes unless Congress funds CHIP very soon. Virginia recently announced the state will send a letter to CHIP enrollees informing them that they could lose their coverage on Jan. 31. Alabama said the state may be forced to send letters to parents near Christmas notifying them that 84,000 kids stand to lose health coverage next year. Texas has warned that the state could send CHIP families cancellation notices three days before Christmas.
Here’s what some governors are saying:
A bipartisan group of governors is urging Congress to act quickly to reauthorize funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
In a letter led by Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D), the governors said their states are running out of money, and urged lawmakers to find a bipartisan solution. …
“In the absence of Congressional action, we have worked to protect coverage for children and pregnant women in each of our states, but we will need federal support to continue the program,” the governors wrote. “Resources are nearly exhausted and some states already have begun to inform families that their children’s coverage may end on January 31.” …
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The letter was signed by Governors Kasich (Ohio), Hickenlooper (Colorado), Bill Walker (Alaska), Tom Wolf (Pennsylvania), McAuliffe (Virginia), Bullock (Montana), Sandoval (Nevada), Edwards (Louisiana), Sununu (New Hampshire), Baker (Massachusetts), Phil Scott (Vermont), and Dayton (Minnesota).
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan sent a letter to leaders of both parties in Congress highlighting the importance of CHIP funding that provides more than 146,000 low-income children in Maryland with health care coverage. According to Governor Hogan, the potential worst-case outcome places “a tremendous financial and administrative burden on our state and sows fear and confusion among some of our most vulnerable populations.”
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker
Governor Scott Walker noted in a letter to Congressional leaders that “despite the lack of congressional action on reauthorization [to fund CHIP], Wisconsin is fortunate to be able to continue eligibility into 2018.” However, the governor noted, “failure to act will force Wisconsin, and other states, to fulfill the federal government’s share of their commitment to provide access to this care.” The governor noted, “There is nothing more important than the health of the children in Wisconsin and across the United States. Your immediate attention to the reauthorization of funding for CHIP to help children throughout the country maintain access to care is critical.”
Texas Governor Greg Abbott
Governor Greg Abbott asked Congressional leaders in a letter to “please take immediate action to reauthorize federal funds for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).” The governor warned: “without immediate reauthorization or redistribution of funds, Texas will, as soon as February, exhaust funding for the program. State law requires that the program be terminated once funding is exhausted. Thus, absent any action by the federal government, Texas will begin the process of terminating CHIP by notifying enrollees the program will end due to a lack of federal funding.”
Vermont Governor Phil Scott and New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu
Governors Scott and Sununu recently wrote Congress saying, they “write in support of Congress reauthorizing the Community Health Center, National Health Service Corps, and Teaching Health Center Program Funds as well as the Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP). These funds and the health care activities they support enjoy broad bipartisan backing.” The governors explained that “since the expiration of these funds on September 30, 2017, the 22 Health Centers and their patients across New Hampshire and Vermont are already facing disruptions in their services.” The Governors warned that “without reauthorization of CHIP, both of our states will face significant budgetary pressures as we continue to provide coverage for children in our states. We, therefore, urge you to work in a bipartisan manner to reauthorize these critical programs.”