With Deadlines Looming, Officials Hope Congress Renews CHIP Funding Soon

Nov 28, 2017

In this May 23, 2017 photo, budget director Mick Mulvaney holds up a copy of President Donald Trump's proposed fiscal 2018 federal budget as he speaks to members of the media in the Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington. His $4.1 trillion plan for the budget year beginning Oct. 1 generally proposed deep cuts in safety net programs, including Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program.
Credit AP Photo / Andrew Harnik

Thousands of children and pregnant women may be on the verge of losing their health insurance if Congress does not take action. And, as Michael Pope reports, state officials are hoping that happens soon.

Officials at the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services were planning to send out termination letters on December 1st, alerting families that 65,000 children and 1,100 pregnant women were about to lose their health insurance. That’s because Congress has not reauthorized the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, known as SCHIP.

Chief Deputy Director Linda Nablo appeared on WBUR’s Here and Now to announce that state officials are waiting a few more days in the hopes Congress might take action.

“We’re not sending the letter out on December 1st as originally intended because the last thing we want to do is scare parents and then turn right around and have to tell them sorry, never mind, Congress has finally acted and your coverage is safe.”

Elisabeth Barak at Georgetown University says states are walking a tightrope.

"No state is in a position where they want to cut off their program. I think there is a hope that this will get done quickly. But of course states run these programs and they have to plan ahead, and they have to make sure that they give families enough lead time and that’s exactly the position that Virginia is in.”

If Congress has not taken action by December 8th, Virginia officials will have to start notifying families that they will soon no longer have health insurance.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.