In 1928, Congress passed a joint resolution establishing Child Health Day, the express purpose of which was to raise awareness “of the fundamental necessity of a year-round program to protect and develop the health of the children of the United States.”
Monday, on the nation’s 88th Child Health Day, Congress is reflecting on its failure to renew the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which technically expired Friday amid House attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
For the last 20 years, CHIP has provided comprehensive coverage to youth whose parents earn too much to qualify for Medicaid. The law is credited with decreasing the percentage of children without insurance from 14 percent in 1997 to 4.5 percent in 2015.
Its continuation is now uncertain.
What’s At Stake
The House Energy and Commerce Committee will work on a bill this week to reauthorize spending, projected at $17.4 billion for 2018, but the immediate lapse could significantly impact some of the 9 million children enrolled in the program.
Although most states can extend aid with rollovers from their two-year allotments, Minnesota had been on course to expend its entire share Sept. 30 and was exploring “extraordinary measures” to continue coverage, including using $10 million from its general fund.
Some states are expected to exhaust their resources by the end of the year. Thirty-one will run out by March, according to the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission.
If Congress does not renew federal funding, states will be forced to decide whether to terminate their CHIP segments or proceed with significantly reduced budgets. Children in states that shut down the program will either shift to employer-sponsored or subsidized exchange coverage — or become uninsured.
Physicians may be forced to reject those uncovered patients and deny immunizations, sick visits and prescriptions, which may ultimately result in public health crises.
At the time of publication, the Health Care SPDR (ETF) (NYSE: XLV) was trading at $82.41.
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