Amid intense debates about the Graham-Cassidy health care bill, the Senate and House missed the deadline to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) – meaning federal funding for the program will expire at the end of the month.
Last reauthorized in 2015, CHIP is a partnership between the federal government and states that insures American children from low and moderate-income families.
And though the program’s situation isn’t yet dire – and won’t be until the states begin to run out of money – some states are starting to get nervous about paying for the program.
“States are optimistic that Congress will actually act. They’re not totally panicked yet,” said Diane Rowland, executive vice president of Kaiser Family Foundation. “But, they need to know very soon that addition money will be coming so they’ll know how they can continue their programs.”
A Little History
CHIP was passed into law with bipartisan support under President Bill Clinton in 1997.
Co-sponsored by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-MA, and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-UT, and championed by then-first lady Hillary Clinton, the program provides low-cost health coverage to children in families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but still need government support to pay for their kids’ healthcare.
In the years following the program’s passage, the uninsured rate among children fell significantly, from 13.9 percent in 1997 to 4.5 percent in 2015, according to a Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission report released early this year.