Update on children’s health coverage

While almost everyone in the U.S. Congress professes to support renewal of the expired funding for the long-established and well-regarded Children’s Health Insurance Program, renewed funding remains in limbo. The House has passed a funding bill, but attached to it are cuts in other programs that will never be accepted in the U.S. Senate.

The Texas Children’s Health Coverage Coalition has sounded the alarm with a November 8 letter outlining consequences of the failure to renew funding:

….Since 1997, when Congress passed CHIP with strong bipartisan support, it has provided essential health care to children in working families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but too little to afford private health insurance.

Without action by Congress this month to continue federal funding for CHIP, Texas families could face disruptions in coverage that are almost certain to result in some children being unable to access medical care while other parents will face unmanageable medical debt in the event of an emergency….

Further, if funding is delayed beyond the end of the year, the impact will be decidedly costly to Texas. Moving children from CHIP to ACA [Affordable Care Act] Marketplace coverage, only to return them to CHIP later after Congress takes action, would increase costs for both taxpayers and families, and would inevitably result in gaps in coverage for children. This will be especially traumatic for those with serious medical needs.

If the congressional impasse continues, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission as early as December 1 will have to send advance notices of termination of the CHIP program to affected families—families whose children in some instances are in the midst of important medical treatment.