WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- An insurance program meant to cover low-income kids is nearly out of money.
Washington can easily reauthorize new money for the program, and many legislators on both sides of the aisle want to.
However, another week wraps up, and once again, Congress has not closed a deal on new funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
Joan Alker, the Executive Director of the Center for Children and Families at Georgetown University, said, “If Congress does nothing at all before they leave for the holidays, I think there’s a good chance in January we will see some states starting to move to close down their programs.”
CHIP helps insure about nine million kids who aren’t eligible for Medicaid, and whose parents can’t afford private insurance.
Alker said, “Children would most definitely be worse off if the CHIP program goes away.”
Federal funding ran out about three months ago, and states are using dwindling reserve money to keep things going.
Legislators on both sides of the aisle want to restore CHIP funding.
Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) said it hasn’t happened yet because Republican leadership isn’t showing a sense of urgency.
Stabenow said, “We’ve not had a good reason, they’ve just simply been waiting and indicating they will get to it at some point.”
Jim Capretta, with the American Enterprise Institute, said legislators have already done most of the heavy lifting, and have a five-year CHIP funding plan ready to go.
Capretta said, “Paying for the CHIP authorization isn’t really, from my point of view, the critical issue. It’s really the politics of how to make it work.”
Part of the politics, the big-ticket items on the agenda; like the Republican tax reform bill, and a bill to keep the government funded.
Still, legislators on both sides continue to say they want chip funding extended before congress leaves for the holidays.