In order to avoid a government shutdown, both houses of congress reached a budget deal; however, it won’t be enough to help states that are running out of money for their Children’s Health Insurance Program.
On Thursday, December 21st, Senate followed the House lead and passed a budget to fund the government until January 19th. The budget included a $2.85 billion package to fund CHIP until March 31st. Senate Finance Committee Chair Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Ranking Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon said in a joint statement “In our view, a long-term, five-year extension of the KIDS Act is essential to providing certainty for families and states. While the proposed short-term patch offers some funding relief, it falls short of providing families and states the certainty they need." As well as Wyden and Hatch, according to Modern Healthcare, “Lawmakers' disgruntlement over their inability to agree on how to fund CHIP long-term doesn't match the states' dismay. Some have reached a critical point in their programs, and no one is happy about another short-term fix.”
The CHIP stopgap measures allowed CMS to shift money from states that have a surplus of funding to states that are running out, in addition to the short-term extended funding. The issue with that is that will accelerate the rate at which other states will run out of money. In a recent Georgetown University study, researchers found that 25 states will run out of money in January and a total of 31 states will run out sooner than previously anticipated. On December 8th, Virginia decided to send notices to CHIP parents that the program would have to end by the end of January if congress didn’t act appropriately. Among Virginia, Utah, Colorado, and Alabama also warned families that they will have to terminate their CHIP programs if no action is taken.
CHIP is not the only health program under distress due to congress’ inaction. Two Medicare programs “rural and critical-access hospitals depend on—the Medicare dependent hospital program and the low-volume adjustment—have also expired and were left out of the package.”
We will continue to post updates as they come available.