Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Contingency Set to Cover Children in CHIP System

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Contingency Set to Cover Children in CHIP System

Article excerpt

Kansas Medicaid officials are preparing for the day the state has to take over funding a children's health insurance program if Congress fails to reauthorize the program.

In September, Congress missed the deadline to reauthorize funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program, or CHIP. The money Kansas receives to administer that program will expire in March, interim Medicaid director John Hamdorf told a legislative oversight committee Tuesday.

If Congress doesn't reauthorize the program by March, the state will move children enrolled in CHIP into Medicaid, Hamdorf said. Replacing the federal funds lost would cost more than $90 million by June 2019.

Hamdorf said the loss of CHIP funds was a concern and contingency plans tied up other much-needed resources in the Medicaid program.

"The longer the time we have to spend doing this, the less we have to fix other problems," Hamdorf said.

Hamdorf said extra funding for CHIP was removed from a budget proposal from the Kansas Department for Health and Environment at the request of budget officials. Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer is working to build the governor's budget, which will be released in January.

Kendall Marr, Colyer's communication manager, said in an email the office had been monitoring the CHIP issue.

"Our office is working closely with KDHE and the Kansas federal delegation on this issue and we are confident that CHIP will be reauthorized in the near future," Marr said.

The U.S. House of Representatives earlier this month passed a bill reauthorizing CHIP, but Democrats and Republicans split over how the popular program should be funded. Republicans favored a cut to an Affordable Care Act public health program and raising premiums on upper-income recipients of Medicare.

"It is now up to the Senate to do their job in reauthorizing CHIP," Michael Byerly, a spokesman for Republican U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, said in a statement.

Republican U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder said in a statement he was proud to support the extension and called on the Senate to act quickly.

"The program provides coverage to more than 79,000 children in Kansas and ensures they have access to care," Yoder said.

According to the Associated Press, a deal on CHIP will likely come in a year-end spending bill. …

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