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Children’s Health Insurance Program Set To Expire If Congress Doesn’t Intervene

by Countable | 9.5.17

What’s the story?

The expiration date for current funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is September 30th. As health care debates continue and budget negotiations loom, some worry that the program, which covers insurance for 8 million children, will get inadvertently caught in the political crosshairs.

What is CHIP?

CHIP emerged out of the failed health care reform efforts of President Bill Clinton. The program covers insurance for low to middle income children whose families exceed the income limits for Medicaid, but who still struggle to cover private insurance premiums. CHIP also covers pregnant women who fall within the income guidelines.

The federal government provides funds to states, which match the federal contribution, and administer the program. States determine eligibility and policies within broad federal guidelines. In fiscal year 2017, federal CHIP allotments to the states were approximately $16 billion.

In a study of CHIP outcomes, the Kaiser Family Foundation pointed to improvements in not only child health, but educational gains and increases in both individual economic well-being and productivity.

The original legislation was co-sponsored in 1997 by late-Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT). It has been amended or extended twice, in 2007 and 2009. The most recent extension of the federal contribution expires at the end of September. The legislation has enjoyed fairly broad bipartisan support.

In the flurry of headline news, the looming deadline has gotten little attention.

Supporters worry that the program will suffer from political wrangling and partisanship. The fiscal year ends on September 30, and Congress has a number of essential pieces of legislation that it has to pass.

The Wall Street Journal writes that some lobbyists and congressional staffers suspect Republicans will attach riders to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), otherwise known as Obamacare, which would likely cause Democrats to vote against the legislation. Other sources said that both Democrats and Republicans might use the renewal bill as an opportunity to extend ACA payments to insurers, which would cause far-right lawmakers to vote against it.

The attaching of unrelated riders to massive pieces of legislation -- called "Christmas Tree" bills because everyone is hanging their own item on it -- has both political upsides and downsides. It can cause lawmakers to vote for things they wouldn’t otherwise in order to get what they want, or it may cause them to vote against something they might otherwise support because it’s lumped in with other things they oppose.

CHIP is authorized through 2019, but federal money for the state portion of the program is not. State officials project with juggling of funds and accessing of reserves they could stretch existing monies to last, depending on the state, until December or March. But if Congress does not vote to reauthorize funding by the deadline, they may have to start making plans to wind down the program, notifying families with children who are in the midst of life-saving treatments.

What can you do?

Do you support Congress continuing to fund CHIP or not? What other items would you be willing to have your representative approve, if it meant CHIP could still get funded? Do you think Congress should keep the CHIP legislation simple so political machinations don’t threaten the program?

Tell us in the comments what you think then use the Take Action button to tell your reps!

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: Pixnio / Creative Commons)

Related Reading:

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Written by Countable

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(84)
  • Rita
    09/05/2017
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    It makes no sense to eliminate health insurance for needy children. They should not be pawns/victims of the larger debate.

    Like (18)
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  • Kelanmon1
    09/05/2017
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    Please help support insurance for the most vulnerable and young in our country!

    Like (13)
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  • Kristen
    09/06/2017
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    Please don't play games with children's health care. Pass an extension of this program without any attached riders. Be human and do your jobs as a public servants.

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  • Kassandra
    09/05/2017
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    Everyone should have access to health insurance. Taking away programs that help so many people who could not afford care without it is the same as telling them that their life is not worth it. These programs literally save lives. You cannot say you stand for unborn babies lives if you do not protect the programs that will allow them to live.

    Like (8)
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  • M
    09/05/2017
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    The idea of 8 million American children left without crucial health insurance because the men & women elected by their parents, grandparent, aunts and uncles, etc. is completely unacceptable and unconscionable. It would not be forgotten or forgiven. Do your jobs and protect these vulnerable children!

    Like (6)
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  • Jackie
    09/05/2017
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    These children are the future adults will run America. How physically healthy and mentally sound do you want them to be. Childhood medical care could make the difference. Of course, if this takes too much effort on the legislators part, why don't you set up single payer healthcare and ease your burden?

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  • Trevor
    09/05/2017
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    No child left behind they said.......we want all kids to succeed they said.....now this 🚶🏿✌🏾

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  • Nancy
    09/05/2017
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    As a pediatrician, I can tell you firsthand that the CHIP program provides essential coverage for vulnerable children. Any attempt to sabotage it as a backdoor way to get at the ACA is WRONG!

    Like (6)
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  • Kaitlyn
    09/06/2017
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    It's our responsibility to provide children who don't know how to do it for themselves yet.

    Like (5)
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  • JoshieVersace
    09/06/2017
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    Why can't legislation/bills just be composed of single items (or additional items that are very relevant to the main item) instead of all of these "riders" or "Christmas tree bills" attached to it?

    Like (4)
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  • AndreB
    09/06/2017
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    Don't let this expire. The children of our country need this.

    Like (4)
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  • Lauren
    09/05/2017
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    CHIP is a popular program, helping American families that shouldn't suffer because of our hyperpartisan political climate. The program should be funded without any unnecessary and unrelated riders.

    Like (4)
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  • Abbi
    09/05/2017
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    Great just great! Kids need healthcare now more than ever because the EPA doesn't want to do it's job and clean up toxins that will kill us all!

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  • Justine
    09/05/2017
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    8 million children depend on this program. CHIP helps us care for some of the most vulnerable members of our society. Don't allow these children to become pawns in a political fight.

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  • Kathy
    09/05/2017
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    I add my voice to say do NOT take away CHIP. The most vulnerable of society need health care and do not attach other riders to this in order to pass other legislation. Health care is a human right...like breathing.

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  • Courtney
    09/06/2017
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    You hypocritical "lives matter" lackeys are willing to put our children's lives on the line for some tax break for your investors.... sorry, donators

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  • Cindy
    09/06/2017
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    I understand life as a Congressperson is a tough job right now. Very critical decisions to be made at very critical times. You are our key to working our way through it in a fashion that will make us proud. I'm rooting for you. Please pay attention to those who are struggling in their day to day lives. Those who have already made all the money they need to live comfortably for the rest of their lives are the "squeaky wheels." The rest don't even have wheels to squeak! Thanks for considering my thoughts.

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  • Leona
    10/02/2017
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    Please work hard and fast to fund CHIP! As a retired pediatrician, I know how necessary this program is, with documented worthwhile outcomes. Who could vote for someone who takes care away from what in many cases are the WORKING poor? Leaving it to states just won’t happen: too many states are too budget- stressed to help, but the consequences for our children and country are long term, maybe permanent.

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  • Sandy
    09/06/2017
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    Healthy children have the chance to become good citizen otherwise they can become a more expensive burden on our healthcare and possibly our criminal system

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  • AmandaH
    09/06/2017
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    Please make sure that these children can keep insurance. They may not be something now, but they could be the next person to change the world for the better. If we deny them their health, we are hurting their futures.

    Like (1)
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