What Does Congress’ Failure To Fund CHIP Mean For Philly Region?

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Over the weekend, Congress let funding expire for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP. That could leave some 300,000 children in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware without health care, unless the program is reinstated.

The states have some remaining federal funding, and the state matching funds, for CHIP, so it’s safe through the rest of this year. But by early next year, that would be used up.

“Parents will start getting notices that they can no longer go to the doctor,” said Donna Cooper, Public Citizens for Children and Youth. “Children who are going for regular check-ups, who have terminal illnesses, who are starting a child care program and need vaccines, all the things parents need to be able to rely on for their children’s health care will be at risk if Congress doesn’t reauthorize CHIP.”

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Cooper says it’s unlikely states would make up the federal match, which is more than 80 percent. Pennsylvania Human Services Secretary Teresa Miller says she was in Washington last week and both parties talked about the need to reauthorize CHIP.

“I’m not sure why they haven’t taken action yet,” Miller said, “but I am confident that because of that strong bipartisan support we’ll see action taken here before too long to make sure that CHIP continues.

The program covers families that make too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford private insurance. It’s reduced the rate of uninsured children from more than 18 percent to about five percent.

In Pennsylvania, 176,000 children are covered by CHIP; 113,000 in New Jersey and about 8,000 in Delaware.

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