8 things to know about CHIP funding right now

Funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program ran out in September, putting coverage at risk for millions of children. Here are eight things to know about how the program is funded and why reauthorization is stalled.

1. CHIP covered 8.9 million children in 2016. Medicaid and CHIP combined have brought the uninsured rate among children to 5 percent, the lowest it has ever been, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

2. The program is present in all 50 states and has retained bipartisan support since its inception in 1997. CHIP helps ensure children have health insurance when their parents may earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to buy insurance, according to The New York Times. In almost all states, children in families who earn up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level — the equivalent of $40,840 for a family of three — qualify for CHIP, according to KFF.

3. The federal government spends roughly $14 billion per year on CHIP, according to The New York Times. The program is capped, so each state receives an annual allotment from the federal government, which must be matched by the state to receive funding.

4. Federal funding for the program expired on Sept. 30. Congress must pass a bill to renew funding for the program. CHIP funding was last reauthorized in the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015, and before that, through the ACA. While legislators on both sides of the aisle agree funding needs to be reauthorized, they have failed to agree on offsets for the program and therefore have been unable to pass a bill to renew the program.

5. If Congress does not pass a bill to renew funding for CHIP, almost all states will face a budget shortfall in 2018. Eleven states will run out of federal money by the end of this year, and 32 more will run out by March 2018, according to KFF. Minnesota was the first state to run out and received emergency federal funding to keep the program running in October and November, according to The New York Times. After that, it will use its own funds. CMS provided additional funding to a handful of other states as well, but the redistribution funds are also set to run out soon, according to KFF. Oregon, which is on track to exhaust federal CHIP dollars in December, will also use state money to continue the program. Colorado has already alerted CHIP members their coverage may expire on Jan. 31.

6. Congress may pass a short-term spending bill to provide temporary relief and avert government shutdown, The New York Times reported. If the short-term spending bill passes, legislators expect to follow up with a longer-term solution. The temporary bill would only last for two weeks, authorizing funds through Dec. 22, according to The Hill. It would also streamline the process for states seeking redistribution funds through the end of the year.

7. The House passed a bill in November to fund CHIP through 2022. Their bill would also reauthorize funding for community health centers, graduate medical education programs and the national Precision Medicine Initiative. However, it captured votes from just 15 Democrats. The rest opposed the offsets in the bill, particularly premium increases for high-earning Medicare enrollees, cuts to some public health programs and a reduction in the grace period for ACA enrollees who miss a premium payment.

8. The Senate Finance Committee agreed to fund CHIP through 2022 in September, but has not provided a bill with offsets. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said last week CHIP reauthorization is stalled in the Senate due to lack of funding. "The reason CHIP is having trouble [passing] is because we don't have money anymore," said Mr. Hatch, according to The Intercept. "We just add more and more spending and more and more spending, and you can look at the rest of the bill for the more and more spending."

 

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