CHIP funding on the hot seat

Funding will expire for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) on Sept. 30 unless Congress agrees to dish out more money.

In the past, Congress showed little interest in paying for and extending the program an additional two years. But last week, Congress proposed a bill as part of the fix to the Sustainable Growth Formula that would continue funding CHIP in its current form through 2017, Kaiser Health News reports

Despite a two-year funding extension to the program, some advocates say that's not enough.

In a recent letter to members of Congress, advocacy groups including First Focus, a nonprofit that advocates for children's rights, wrote that "Congress must act quickly to stabilize the CHIP funding stream to ensure that states can continue to operate their programs without interruption." The groups also called for at least a four-year extension of the program.

Last week, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) introduced the Protecting & Retaining Our Children's Health Insurance Program Act of 2015, which would extend CHIP funding through 2019. Brown noted that should CHIP funding cease, nearly 10 million children and pregnant women nationwide would lose insurance. 

Additionally, a two-year extension of the program raises concerns for the industry as a whole. "There is a legitimate policy concern that, if not properly focused, CHIP coverage may unduly crowd out private health coverage," Michigan Rep. Fred Upton (R), who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said back in December during a subcommittee on the future of CHIP. He said that families who may qualify for subsidized coverage would instead opt for CHIP at great expense of the federal government.

However, admid criticism, CHIP has proven to be successful. Forty percent of children are now insured through the program. What's more, Florida has reduced the number of uninsured children by 50 percent since 2008.

For more:
- here's the letter (.pdf)
- here's Sen. Brown's announcement
- read Upton's remarks (.pdf)
- check out the KHN article