Western States Now Face Immediate CHIP Cliff

Fun fact: The massive overhaul of health care proposed in the Graham-Cassidy bill was actually structured as a reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which was established in the 1990s to cover children who were not eligible for Medicaid, but whose parents could not afford insurance for them. CHIP is the vehicle through which approximately 9 million children receive health care in America.

Graham-Cassidy is dead, but reauthorization of CHIP is still necessary by September 30 or the program expires. And today, several outlets are reporting that Republican leadership might not move CHIP by the deadline.

CHIP expiration would not hit every state right away. But according to research from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), 10 states will run out of CHIP funding by December of 2017. And that list includes most of the Western states.

California, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, Idaho, Utah and Hawaii will all face a funding shortfall by December, according to KFF. The other three states: Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Mississippi.

These are the states that will have to make tough calls right away. Enrollment freezes are virtually certain to occur, followed by capped enrollment.

The rest of the Western states won’t be far behind. According to KFF, Washington, Montana and Colorado will exhaust CHIP funds by March of 2018 if the program isn’t reauthorized. Out west, only Wyoming and New Mexico appear to have a long runway to exhaustion.

KFF’s research also revealed that virtually every state in the union budgeted for 2018 under the assumption that CHIP would be taken care of. Forty-eight out of 50 states told KFF that the 2018 state budget “assumed continuation of the federal CHIP funding.” Thirty-four of those states budgeted for CHIP at the enhanced rate provided under the Affordable Care Act.

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John Kelly, Editor in Chief, The Chronicle of Social Change
About John Kelly, Editor in Chief, The Chronicle of Social Change 1182 Articles
John Kelly is editor-in-chief of The Chronicle of Social Change. Reach him at jkelly@chronicleofsocialchange.org.