States face CHIP funding shortfalls, but legislators say a reauthorization deal is imminent

Lawmakers from both parties said they're nearing a deal on CHIP. (Image: Scrumshus/Wikimedia Commons)

If Congress doesn't act on CHIP this month, programs in 24 states could soon be facing significant shortfalls, according to a new report. But legislators say they've almost reached a funding agreement.

Georgetown University Health Policy Institute's Center for Children and Families analyzed Children's Health Insurance Programs across the country and found that 1.7 million children in 21 of the 24 states facing shortages are at risk of losing coverage by the end of February if additional funding is not approved.

In some states, children enrolled in CHIP would be protected by Medicaid provisions and the impact would instead be on the state budget, according to the report.

The states where children are at risk include Medicaid expansion states, including New York and Pennsylvania, and states such as Alabama and South Dakota that did not expand Medicaid.

"While the balance in the redistribution pool may be sufficient to cover February shortfalls enabling all states to cover children through February, it has become increasingly difficult to predict how long funds will last for any particular state," the center concluded (PDF).

"This uncertainty and the ongoing inaction by Congress increases the likelihood that states will take action to prepare families for the worst." 

RELATED: Industry Voices—Why funding CHIP matters 

Congress allowed funding for the CHIP program to expire in October, and passed a stopgap bill to keep it running through March while lawmakers worked on a long-term deal. 

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, however, say that they have neared an agreement to reauthorize CHIP, according to an article from The Hill. It could be attached to a short-term government funding bill that must pass by Jan. 19, but that will depend on congressional leadership, top Republicans told the publication. 

Meanwhile, the Congressional Budget Office recently revised its estimate of the budget impact of funding CHIP for five years. Rather than the $8.2 billion price tag for a five-year CHIP extension that it previously estimated, the agency now puts the cost at just $800 million after taking into account the repeal of the ACA’s individual mandate.

Thanks to that lower projected cost, a deal "shouldn't be a problem," House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., told The Hill.