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January 10, 2018

Congress is Out of Time and Excuses – They Must Renew Long-Term Funding for CHIP Now

Today marks 100 days since Congress has failed to renew long-term funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Short-term fixes, like the one passed last month, won’t keep kids’ health care secure. The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services recently admitted that it can’t guarantee that the short-term fix, intended to fund states for three months, will be enough to fund all states through January.

Kids, their parents, and pregnant women who rely on CHIP for their health care need stability from Congress. Instead, through inaction and inadequate short-term fixes, Congress has given them uncertainty.

Three states have sent letters to parents notifying them that their children’s health insurance programs will soon end if Congress fails to provide stable funding for CHIP. Due to the uncertainty, several states have been forced to use funding that should be going to providing health care to begin the process of shutting down their programs.

Nationwide, nearly 9 million kids and their parents anxiously wait for Congress to act, and that’s unacceptable.

For 20 years CHIP has enjoyed bipartisan support, but right now lawmakers can’t agree on how to pay for it. New information from the Congressional Budget Office shows that a five-year renewal for CHIP will have a much smaller net cost then previous estimates. A five-year funding renewal for CHIP will now have a net incremental cost of less than $1 billion, compared to a previous estimate of $7.5 billion.

Congressional Republicans recently passed a tax cut that had a price tag of $1.5 trillion. Now they’re squabbling over how to pay for health care for low-income kids and pregnant women at a cost that is less than one tenth of 1% of their tax cut bill. This is unconscionable. Congress has run out of excuses.

Unlike many other states, Wisconsin will not be sending out notices to parents or kicking kids off their insurance. If Congress fails to renew funding for CHIP, Wisconsin will lose nearly $10 million per month in the state budget. We’ll have to fill that hole by cutting services or raising taxes.

In Wisconsin, CHIP funding supports approximately 117,700 children who get health care benefits through the state’s BadgerCare program, which Medicaid and CHIP both fund.  CHIP ensures that these children can get important health services including primary care, behavioral health treatment, and dental.

Kids Forward developed this short fact sheet to explain how BadgerCare works for Wisconsin children, thanks to the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and what’s at risk for us if Congress fails to act.

Short-term fixes aren’t going to cut it. Kids and parents deserve to know they’ll have the health care they need. Times up. Pass long-term funding for CHIP now.

William Parke-Sutherland

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