Funding for Children's Health Insurance Program dwindling nationwide

Courtesy NBC News

Courtesy NBC News

States could be forced to use reserves, or freeze enrollment in the program as they work to find funding. Though it has historically enjoyed bipartisan support, partisan divisions over how to pay for another extension blossomed into a major political dispute in December. "However, due to a number of variables relating to state expenditure rates and reporting, we are unable to say with certainty whether there is enough funding for every state to continue its CHIP program through March 31, 2018". National lawmakers now face calls from across the political spectrum - including, most recently, Hillary Clinton - to reach a more lasting agreement. CHIP was created in 1997 to fill a gap in insurance for children from lower income families that do not qualify for Medicaid.

State officials submitted a request with the federal government on November 16 for an extra $90 million to support CHIP in the state until February.

Because of this tradeoff, repealing the mandate makes reauthorizing CHIP roughly 90 percent cheaper than before. There are 3,820 children covered by CHIP in Lubbock County, according to data from Texas Health and Human Services. The agency is now in talks with the hardest hit states, though exactly when funding will run out for whom is a "moving target". You think about their dental care, you think about their vision.

For children already enrolled in school, publicly financed health insurance remains critical.

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The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) have drastically lowered their estimate of what it will take to fund the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) because of 3 factors related to tax law changes affecting the Affordable Care Act at the end of a year ago that basically make it cheaper to insure children through CHIP than through insurance marketplaces.

Funding for CHIP expired in September, but the year-end continuing resolution provided a short-term spending bandage.

Years of research have shown that access to medical care, especially in the early years, improves life outcomes for low-income children in realms far beyond personal health. Authorization for the program, which now provides health care for more than 9 million children nationwide, expired in September.

"Our estimates suggest that the long-run returns to providing health insurance access to children are larger than just the short-run gains in health status", the authors write, "and that part of the return to these expansions is a potential reduction in inequality and higher economic growth that stems from the creation of a more skilled workforce".

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