Congress takes away insurance from 9 million kids

Congress fails to renew CHIP, an essential health program for children, and 9 million kids are left out

By Taylor Link

Published October 2, 2017 8:11AM (EDT)

 (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
(AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

Lawmakers allowed a program known as the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which provided low-cost health insurance to 9 million children, expire over the weekend. Congress missed a Sept. 30 deadline to extend the Clinton-era initiative.

While some states will still have funding through 2018, states such as Arizona, Minnesota and North Carolina are at risk of running out of CHIP money by the end of December, the New York Daily News reported.

CHIP cost the federal government $13.6 billion in 2016 and provided benefits to each state. Such benefits include routine checkups, doctor visits, prescriptions and other services.

In a state like Minnesota, CHIP also covered pregnant women who were ineligible for Medicaid.

Emily Piper, the commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Services, wrote a letter to Congress urging the legislative body to extend the needed program.

"Our department will exhaust our CHIP allotment of $114 million for fiscal year 2017 at the end of September, resulting in the department having to take extraordinary measures to ensure coverage continues beyond October 1, 2017 if Congress does not act," she said in the letter.

Rep. Joe Crowley of New York, the House Democratic Caucus chairman, said that Congress' failure to extend the program was “unacceptable.”

“Ensuring that children, who would otherwise have no access to comprehensive health care, have the guarantee of coverage should be a bipartisan issue,” he said in a statement. “Extending this critical program must be a top priority when Congress returns to Washington.”

Taylor Link

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