Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Editorial: Congress Should Fund CHIP Immediately

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Editorial: Congress Should Fund CHIP Immediately

Article excerpt

On Monday, House Republicans introduced a short-term spending bill that will fund the government until Dec. 22. The measure will maintain federal funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program, which provides health care for almost 9 million low-income children in the U.S. The temporary bill is necessary because Congress neglected its responsibility to reauthorize CHIP earlier this year. Despite wide bipartisan support for CHIP, debates over the Affordable Care Act and Medicare have prevented Congress from replenishing it.

This has led to anxiety and confusion among states. According to the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission, states still have money left over from previous allotments in 2015, but it won't last much longer: "Unless Congress acts to renew funding, all states will experience a shortfall in CHIP funds in FY 2018." MACPAC expects Arizona, Minnesota, the District of Columbia and North Carolina to run out of money for CHIP by December (the end of the first quarter of fiscal year 2018).

Kansas is one of 27 states that is projected to "exhaust all available federal CHIP funding, including redistribution funds" by the end of the second quarter (March 2018). CHIP provides health insurance for 37,000 Kansas children. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Josh Svaty recently called upon our congressional delegation to reauthorize CHIP funding and said the program shouldn't be used as a "political pawn used as leverage for support of other programs of less importance. If you can ensure that at least 37,000 Kansas children in need can keep their health care coverage, you cast that vote without hesitation."

Although the U.S. House passed a bill that reauthorized CHIP last month, there was a stark partisan divide (only 15 Democrats voted for it, while three Republicans voted against it) due to the controversial cost offsets that would fund the program. As Kaiser Health News explains, "The House agreed to charge higher premiums to wealthier Medicare beneficiaries, cut money from the ACA's preventive health fund and shorten the grace period for ACA enrollees who fail to make monthly premium payments. …

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