Congress just let the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, expire. CHIP provides low-cost health insurance to 9 million children across the country…..22,000 in Arizona. Now those children are in jeopardy of losing their coverage.
The federal budget year expired Sept. 30 without lawmakers taking action to fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for the new year. States use those dollars to provide care for about 9 million children of the working poor, including 22,389 at last count in Arizona.
But Congress’ inaction on the $15 billion annual appropriation does not immediately leave these children uninsured.
Officials from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services say they have some unspent dollars from the fiscal year just ending, said Heidi Capriotti, spokeswoman for the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, which administers the CHIP program.
Capriotti said there should be enough to carry Arizona through October and November.
According to AzCentral.com, “Children’s advocates said congressional delays in reauthorizing CHIP funding creates unnecessary stress on states.”Some states are in a bind,” said Joan Alker, executive director of Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families. “They are being told, ‘Don’t worry, it is going to be fine,’ but it is a very dicey situation.”
Arizona froze enrollment in the KidsCare program during budget cuts back in 2010 and for a while, ours was the only state without an active CHIP program. That ended when our state legislature reinstated the program last year, provided that Congress was willing to pick up the cost, at least through Sept. 30 of this year. That is the funding that is awaiting renewal.
Cronkite News added that if the federal government doesn’t act, the future of KidsCare could be in the hands of state legislators.
Advocates said they hope Congress can act quickly to renew the program, to keep the state from sliding backwards after recent “historic gains” in coverage. CHIP has had broad bipartisan support since 1997, they noted.
“To prevent us from going backwards, Congress should commit to reauthorize the funding of CHIP at the current levels,” said Children’s Action Alliance President Dana Wolfe Naimark, in an emailed statement.
Share your thoughts on this weekend’s decision in Congress to let the Children’s Health Insurance Program expire. Should the families who purchase their insurance through the program be worried or do you believe the federal government will make sure CHIP survives? Generating meaningful conversations around the health issues making headlines is another way we are working toward our long-term goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!