Congress Fails to Act to Extend CHIP Funding

Written by: Sarah Barnes
Date Posted: October 6, 2017

Federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), known as Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+) in Colorado, expired on Sept. 30 because Congress failed to renew it before the deadline. In Colorado, this puts in jeopardy access to quality, affordable health care for about 90,000 children and pregnant women.

Leaders of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee previously proposed a bipartisan plan to extend CHIP funding, but Congress’ focus on the latest attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act put it on the back burner.

The Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing projects that Colorado will run out of CHIP funds at the end of January. The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) has indicated that it will allocate redistribution funds to states that run out of CHIP funding first. Children and pregnant women in Colorado should continue to enroll in CHP+, and those already enrolled should continue to use their coverage to access health services as they normally would. But if a bill isn’t passed soon, states will be forced to make bad choices that could impact the health and future of kids and their families.

The proposal to extend CHIP funding passed out of the Senate Finance Committee this week. We’re thankful that both Sen. Cory Gardner and Sen. Michael Bennet support the proposal to extend funding for the proven, successful and critical CHIP program. Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have also introduced legislation to extend CHIP funding. The House proposal passed out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee this week along party lines, without any Democratic support. We are concerned about some of the payment mechanisms in the House proposal, including cuts to public health and prevention funding under the Affordable Care Act and threats to access to high-value Medicaid services such as pediatric and obstetric care.

This week, the 2017 Colorado CHIP Coalition submitted comments to the House Energy and Commerce Committee and to our representatives, urging them to support a clean, five-year extension of CHIP funding. The 2017 Colorado CHIP Coalition continues to advocate for Congress to act quickly to extend CHIP funding. To join the coalition and receive updates, please email Sarah Barnes at sarahb@coloradokids.org.

Sarah Barnes

About Sarah Barnes

Sarah serves as the Policy Analyst for the Colorado Children’s Campaign. Prior to joining the Children’s Campaign in September 2014, Sarah taught middle school English and worked as an Interventionist at Pioneer Charter School in Denver. She was a 2011 Teach For America corps member. Prior to teaching, Sarah worked as an attorney in Denver in the areas of venture capital, mergers and acquisitions, general corporate and business law, and commercial transactions. Sarah earned a BA in English from Midland University and a J.D. from the University of Michigan.