by Jared Staheli
December 26th, 2017
The authorization for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) funding expired at the end of September 2017. The aim of the program is to fund health insurance for children in families who make too much to qualify for Medicaid but cannot afford private insurance. Without reauthorization, 9 million children are at risk of losing access to health care. States have been funding the program since the expiration
The “stopgap” funding bill, signed by President Trump on December 8th to fund government operations through December 21nd, will provide unused federal money to the states most at-risk of running out of funding for the program. However, the bill only provides funding for a limited time. Congress needs to pass further appropriations to ensure continued coverage. More emergency stopgap measures will only leave uncertainty and depleted state coffers; a more permanent extension needs to be signed into law to avoid these problems.
There are bills in progress aiming to remedy the situation. A five-year extension for CHIP funding was passed in the House in November, while a Senate bill doing the same was introduced in September, but has not been voted on due to hold-ups from other legislative priorities. Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, one of the co-sponsors of the original CHIP bill, has assured concerned parties that CHIP will be fine, saying, “We're gonna do CHIP. There's no question about it in my mind, and it's gotta be done the right way.”