Health

Fed extension gives Mass. CHIP funding through March

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CHIP should not be a bargaining chip in Congress

By now perhaps you've heard that Republicans in Congress are denying health care to poor children, because what else would those robber barons do?

You may recall the news from a few days ago that extending the Children's Health Insurance Program would cost only $0.8 billion, which should make it very easy to pass.

But it also expects that extending the CHIP program even further will actually save the government money.

Congress approved $2.85 billion for the program before Christmas, hoping it would last though March.

CHIP, a federal-state matching program that serves almost nine million moderately low-income children, is among the urgent priorities that seem to have gotten lost amid congressional efforts to repeal Obamacare and revise the tax code.

The federal government paid almost $14.5 billion for CHIP expenses in fiscal 2016, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

"Extending funding for CHIP for 10 years yields net savings to the federal government because the federal costs of the alternatives to providing coverage through CHIP (primarily Medicaid, subsidized coverage in the marketplaces, and employment-based insurance) are larger than the costs of providing coverage through CHIP during that period", the nonpartisan budget agency writes.

"Americans are exhausted of waiting on their government to do the right thing - lives are depending on it. Let's end this waiting game and #FundCHIPNow", U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) tweeted Wednesday. (It's a five-year funding bill.) But no matter.

As Republicans on Capitol Hill spent much of the fall cobbling together a tax reform package, Democrats criticized them for missing a September deadline without replenishing CHIP.

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.

The news, first, comes less than a month after Texas Health and Human Services Commission officials announced that the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services was giving the state $135 million to continue the program through February. I am urging my Senate colleagues on both sides of the aisle to urgently prioritize issues that are essential to working folks - like ensuring the children who rely on CHIP can keep getting the care they need.

"The short term patch that lawmakers included in an end-of-year funding deal only provides momentary relief", the organization wrote. Most states can not afford to make up the difference and will have to freeze enrollment or terminate coverage when their federal funding runs out.

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