Congress failed to authorize funding for 24,000 children of Arizona’s working poor by October 1.
Arizona Medicaid officials are preparing to implement a contingency plan. Use other cash Arizona gets from the federal government for its separate traditional Medicaid plan to pay the premiums for children in the KidsCare program.
Those dollars were left over from the prior federal fiscal year, Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) spokeswoman Heidi Capriotti said Tuesday. But Capriotti warned this is a short-term solution. There are only enough dollars in that Medicaid account to keep the KidsCare premiums paid into the first quarter of 2018.
The reason this is an issue is the failure of Congress to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
CHIP provides low-cost health insurance to children whose parents earn less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level, about $40,840 for a family of three. Premiums are no more than $50 a month for a single child and $70 for multiple children.
It is designed to aid families who earn too much to qualify for the regular Medicaid program, where income is limited to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, but who may not earn enough to purchase private insurance for their children or don’t work for an employer that provides coverage.
The program has been around in some form since 1997. But Congress, distracted with debates over the future of the Affordable Care Act, did not meet the Oct. 1 deadline to provide the estimated $15 billion needed to care for the approximately 8.9 million children nationwide who are enrolled.
Read more in The Arizona Daily Star
Five Things to Know about imperiled CHIP funding:
1. Congress did not renew funding for CHIP prior to a Sept. 30 deadline. CHIP covers roughly 9 million low-income children, as well as 370,000 pregnant women.
2. Without action from Congress, Arizona, California, Minnesota, Ohio, Oregon and Washington, D.C., could see CHIP funding dry up by Dec. 31 or early January.
3. In total, 12 states are preparing for funding to run out. For some states, such as Virginia, this preparation includes drafting letters to warn families their children’s insurance may be eliminated, according to The Washington Post
4. Congress could extend funding before January, although it is still unclear if this will occur.
5. If CHIP funding is not extended, CMS said affected states that have to end their children’s health programs will be responsible for deciding whether enrolled children are eligible for Medicaid or whether their family will need to gain coverage through an ACA plan.
Source: Becker’s Hospital Review