Federal budget year expired September 30 without congressional action to continue funding the program.
CHIP is a partnership between the federal government and states that insures American children from low and moderate-income families.
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, 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. An analysis from the American Academy of Pediatrics found that families are more likely to take advantage of preventative and primary care after enrolling their children in the program. Read the report by the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission
Most states have enough money put aside to help pay for CHIP for a while if the government grants aren’t immediately available. Diane Rowland, executive vice president of Kaiser Family Foundation provides some perspective:
“States are optimistic that Congress will actually act. They’re not totally panicked yet but, they need to know very soon that additional money will be coming so they’ll know how they can continue their programs.”
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There is potential impact on 22,000 children in Arizona.
Officials from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services say they have some unspent dollars from the fiscal year just ending, said Heidi Capriotti, spokeswoman for the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, which administers the CHIP program.
Capriotti said there should be enough to carry Arizona through October and November.
There is broad bipartisan support for the program. But the debate over how to pay for it, coupled with recent dysfunction of Congress, leaves the question of whether it can be restored, and how quickly, up in the air. Capriotti said:
“We expect the Congress is going to take action soon, it kind of got derailed by Graham-Cassidy,”
Another option is for the state to pay the tab. That has been controversial over the years. Read the Arizona history of the CHIP in The Arizona Daily Star