Fed extension gives Mass. CHIP funding through March

Michael Conroy  AP

A press conference was held Thursday at the Kanawha City Health Center in Charleston where health care advocates discussed the benefits of CHIP and the importance of continuing to serve the almost 21,000 West Virginia children who depend on the coverage.

More than 400,000 Texas children get their health insurance through CHIP, but funding for the decades-long program expired in September. By comparison, the tax overhaul passed in December is expected to add $1.8 trillion to the debt over 10 years, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. 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. There, the government will have to subsidize their coverage - and spend more on those tax credits than they would just keeping the kids in their current CHIP health plans.

Since a September deadline passed without CHIP reauthorization by Congress, funding in MA has included a combination of fiscal 2017 carry-over funds and "redistribution funding" from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, according to the Baker administration. Do the right thing and reauthorize CHIP today. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) tweeted Wednesday.

That may have gotten easier with a January 5 estimate showing that a Senate bill to extend CHIP would increase deficits by $800 million over 10 years, far lower than the previous projection of more than $8 billion.

Meanwhile, a House health-care committee gave the nod to a bill (HB 293), which would create a 12-member KidCare Operational Efficiency and Health Care Improvement Workgroup.

Rep. Steve Womack believes it's important to make sure CHIP is on "proper fiscal footing for an extended period of time".

Though a short-term measure will keep it going until March, a doctor that spoke with FOX19 NOW says if action isn't taken soon families in the Tri-State will be impacted. It works to safeguard the health of children, and long has enjoyed bipartisan support.

Extending CHIP for 10 years would save a total of $6 billion, CBO staffers said. As it happens, that estimate only included seven years of funding, for reasons I couldn't quite figure out.

Even though Texas officials say CHIP funds are available through February 28, 2018, many states are on "red alert" because funding has expired.

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