As states prepare for federal dollars funding a children’s health insurance program to run out, Congress could take steps to continue the program it failed to reauthorize in September, U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran said Wednesday.
Moran, a Kansas Republican, stopped in Topeka to tour the University of Kansas Health System St. Francis Campus. He said he expected a vote by mid January to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP.
“It certainly is a top priority for me,” Moran said.
Congress failed to reauthorize CHIP in September despite wide bipartisan support for the program. Without reauthorization, federal dollars that fund most of the program would disappear. States could have to pick up the tab, or families could lose coverage for their children. Kansas Medicaid officials told legislators last month federal CHIP funds for Kansas children would expire in March, leaving the cash-strapped state on the hook to fund the program. That would cost $90 million by June 2019, they said.
Other states’ money was set to run out sooner, prompting Congress to pass a stop-gap funding measure last week. Moran said that short-term fix was done.
“But we still need to get our work done in regard to reauthorization and full funding for a long period of time so we get rid of the uncertainty,” Moran said. “No family ought to be worried about whether or not CHIP is going to be available to care for their children.”
Critics have said repealing that requirement will destabilize the market and make insurance more expensive for those who buy individual policies.
Stabilization efforts, like cost-sharing reductions that subsidize discounts for consumers buying insurance, would not make up for the destabilizing effects repealing the mandate would have. Without the mandate, young, health consumers may opt out of buying insurance, leaving a pool of sicker, more expensive people buying insurance. That would further increase the price of insurance premiums.