Eight New York members of Congress, including U.S. Rep. John Katko, want an important health insurance program for children renewed in a year-end spending bill. As Congress has broken repeated promises to deal with the issue, she said they may now have to tell the families of 100,000 children their health coverage could end in a few weeks. Whats more, huge tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans in the just passed Congressional tax bill mean that Medicaid will likely face drastic cuts, pitting our most vulnerable children, seniors and Idahoans with disabilities against each other in state funding decisions. Prior political fighting over CHIP funding back in 2004 led to long-lasting damage to the program, and we can expect the same or worse this time.
The commonwealth's CHIP program will be lucky to last until March if federal lawmakers don't act soon.
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Republicans and Democrats in Congress say they support the program, but they have not agreed on where to get the money to pay for it.
The Bay State is in a better position than some of its brethren because, thanks to a provision in the Affordable Care Act, children now covered by CHIP can be rolled into the state's Medicaid program, but the federal reimbursement rate for that coverage will drop to 50 percent. CHIP has played a critical role in reducing the number of uninsured children by more than 68 percent, from almost 15 percent in 1997 to less than five percent in 2015, while improving health outcomes and access to care for children and pregnant women.
Those states join Colorado, Utah and Oklahoma, which have already warned that coverage may end or be reduced in coming months.
For 20 years, the program worked swimmingly - eventually covering 95 percent of the nation's children, or 8.4 million, including 172,000 beneficiaries in MA. But starting January 1st, the program will not accept new enrollments. Most Democrats voted no, saying they opposed plans to finance the extension in part by cutting a public health program created under President Barack Obama's 2010 health care law. A family of four making up to $77,982 annually can qualify for the program.