CBO: Reauthorizing CHIP Will Save $6 Billion

Phillip Cunningham
January 14, 2018

Last month, when Congress allocated $2.85 billion in additional funding to keep CHIP running a couple extra months in the most vulnerable states, some lawmakers complained that they didn't have enough money to pay for the program.

Alabama and Utah are among several states unsure how long their federal CHIP funding will last, according to interviews with state officials. For months now, negotiations in Congress have stalled over how to pay for the program that covers 9 million low- and middle-income children.

While members of Congress on both sides of the aisle insist that CHIP must be reauthorized, GOP leaders have yet to even schedule a vote, and the program has been stuck in limbo for months amid disagreements about how to pay for it. However long an extension they land on, lawmakers said, all signs point that CHIP will at the very least get funded in the January 19 continuing budget resolution that Congress needs to pass to avert a government shutdown.

The House passed a bill in November extending CHIP for five more years, but the Senate has yet to do so.

"Like the CHIP Program, Community Health Centers have enjoyed long bipartisan support for the high-quality care that they provide our families". The group practice hasn't changed any scheduling for CHIP patients, but he said "families are terrified" about the program having to be terminated. On Thursday, the office said renewing CHIP would actually create a "net savings because the federal costs of the alternatives to providing coverage through CHIP. are larger than the costs of providing coverage through CHIP during that period".

In his 35 years of practice, Patel, of San Antonio, has seen the lengths to which parents will go to care for their critically ill children. "They are looking at you and begging for their child's life", he said.

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President Donald Trump celebrates with Congressional Republicans after Congress passed tax reform in December 2017. Reuters Carlos Barria

Navsaria also worries that many parents will be surprised if their children are suddenly without coverage.

"This should be a no brainer", said Rep. "We should stop the uncertainty and permanently extend CHIP". In December, Congress provided $2.85 billion to temporarily fund the program.

Treatment plans for serious diseases can span months, leaving some doctors, like Patel, to jury-rig solutions in case CHIP falls through.

"It's nonsensical and it's frustrating and it's ridiculous, honestly", said Brown, vice chair of the National Governors Association Health and Human Services Committee. "It just doesn't work", Alker said.

The stall in funding for CHIP, a federally funded program that covers moderately low-income children in the USA, leaves almost nine million children and their families in a worrisome limbo.

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