As CHIP Money Runs Out, Millions of U.S. Kids May Lose Health Care

From - January 11, 2018

As CHIP Money Runs Out, Millions of U.S. Kids May Lose Health Care

THURSDAY, Jan. 11, 2018 -- Time is running out for millions of American kids covered by the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Stopgap funding for the federal program for these kids will expire Jan. 19. Soon thereafter, states will begin to cut kids' coverage as the money runs dry, experts say.

Nearly 1.7 million children on CHIP in 20 states could lose coverage by the end of February, according to a new analysis from the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute.

"They are projecting that a number of states could lack sufficient funds to keep their programs going," said Genevieve Kenney, co-director of the Urban Institute's Health Policy Center. "They are seeing this happening in February and March, so notices closing up programs to new applicants could start going out in just a couple of weeks."

In fact, 10 states are expected to exhaust all their CHIP funds before the end of February, the Georgetown analysis concludes. The states are Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Ohio and Washington, along with the District of Columbia.

CHIP covers 8.9 million children in working families across the United States, Kenney said.

"It was really designed to fill a niche that existed for families whose income was above the Medicaid eligibility threshold but still did not have access to affordable private health insurance coverage for their children," Kenney explained. "The program targets not our poorest families, but our low-income and moderate-income working families."

Through CHIP, these kids gain "access to a usual and ongoing source of care," explained Dr. Michael Munger, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. "That ongoing care is what really provides for great overall health."

CHIP kids get regular well-baby and well-child visits, scheduled vaccinations, and even dental care. The program is particularly important for kids who suffer chronic illnesses such as asthma or autism, Munger said.

"The program has always shared bipartisan support," Munger said. "The fact that we are getting down to the 11th hour, we are facing a deadline of January 19 where states really will run out of money, I am quite surprised we have gotten to this point."

CHIP has been a major public policy success, Kenney argued in an editorial published Jan. 10 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

In the two decades since it passed into law, uninsured rates among U.S. children have declined by 63 percent, and the gap in uninsured rates between higher- and lower-income children fell to 3.6 percentage points in 2016 from 15.4 percentage points in 1997, Kenney wrote.

Continue reading at »