The GOP tax overhaul's repeal of the individual mandate has unexpectedly saved the Children's Health Insurance Program at the 11th hour-and has added at least a year to the funding extension. KidCare is the umbrella name given to four different children's health programs: the federal children's health insurance program commonly called CHIP; Medikids, which is the traditional Medicaid program for children; Children's Medical Services Network, which provides care to medically complex children, and the Florida Healthy Kids program.
If Congress doesn't act on CHIP this month, programs in 24 states could soon be facing significant shortfalls, according to a new report.
Lawmakers in the House Energy and Commerce Committee previously fought over how to pay for CHIP, but Committee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., said the reduced cost estimate would eliminate many roadblocks.
The uncertainty surrounding federal funding for the insurance program has him rethinking his current job as a non-profit attorney along with every routine purchase.
Extending CHIP for 10 years would save a total of $6 billion, CBO staffers said. After bitter partisan wrangling over how to pay for the authorization has held CHIP hostage for months. The House plan includes a controversial funding provision - opposed by Democrats - that takes millions of dollars from the Affordable Care Act's Prevention and Public Health Fund and increases Medicare premiums for some higher-earning beneficiaries. CBO has now estimated its cost assuming that it's reauthorized for a full ten years.
State officials submitted a request with the federal government on November 16 for an extra $90 million to support CHIP in the state until February.
Dr. Todd Wolynn, a Pittsburgh pediatrician, said families are reacting with "fear and disbelief" to CHIP's uncertain future. Together, Medicaid and CHIP cover about 45 percent of all children in the state. "They might not have a family physician, or a clear support system". The health of 9 million American children shouldn't be compromised to put more money in the pockets of billionaires. The group practice hasn't changed any scheduling for CHIP patients, but he said "families are terrified" about the program having to be terminated. "They seem so cavalier about it", she said. But it's unclear whether CHIP will be resolved by then or at a later point. It is an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation that is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.