Cleveland Plain Dealer: Restore long-term funding for children's health programs

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After passing a lavish tax cut for corporations and wealthy families, Congress hastily left town in December without reauthorizing the federal-state health-insurance program, which benefits almost 9 million children.

Last week, Alaska's all-Republican delegation showed strong support for finding a permanent solution to CHIP, and they were right to do so.

Rep. Steve Womack believes it's important to make sure CHIP is on "proper fiscal footing for an extended period of time".

The uncertainty surrounding federal funding for the insurance program has him rethinking his current job as a non-profit attorney along with every routine purchase.

"If Congress does not fully reauthorize CHIP by [the end of March], Texas would pursue redistribution funding as it did previously with CMS", Williams said.

Almost 1.7 million out of the 9 million children served by CHIP each year could lose healthcare coverage by the end of February if Congress fails to pass legislation to reauthorize the program, according to a new report from Georgetown University's Center for Children and Families.

In December, state officials believed DE would run out of funding by January 31. She can not afford private coverage for her two children on her dental hygienist pay. Florida, California and Texas officials said they have enough CHIP funding to last through March.

"These are kids", Walker said.

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Dr. Todd Wolynn, a Pittsburgh pediatrician, said families are reacting with "fear and disbelief" to CHIP's uncertain future. The group practice hasn't changed any scheduling for CHIP patients, but he said "families are terrified" about the coverage disappearing.

This appears to be the case even though Congress had been expected to maintain the program's operations until at least the end of March, according to federal health officials.

With poor healthcare and high gun homicide rates, American children have a 70 percent higher chance of dying before adulthood than other rich countries.

"These families don't know if the rug is being pulled out from them at any time", he said.

In Ohio, covering the 200,000 children enrolled in CHIP costs about $45 million a month - a cost Ohio funds via Medicaid. States are now faced with shutting down the program.

"It's nonsensical and it's frustrating and it's ridiculous, honestly", said Brown, vice chair of the National Governors Association Health and Human Services Committee.

If CHIP gets canceled by the state, she likely won't bring Javier, 2, for his two-year checkup if nothing seems wrong.

Kaiser Health News is a nonprofit news service covering health issues. It cost $15 billion in 2016, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

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