The National Governors Association warned Thursday that states desperately need Congress to fully reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program for five years before leaving for the Christmas break.
"Governors’ message to Congress is that states and families are out of time. Congress must act now for the well-being of millions of children," the NGA said in a statement.
“In the past week, Virginia and Connecticut have sent notices to more than 68,000 families indicating that the CHIP impasse in Congress will lead to termination of health insurance coverage for their children,” the NGA added. The group noted that Alabama plans to freeze enrollment in CHIP and Connecticut to freeze enrollment on Saturday if no funding is available.
The statement was released just a few hours before the House is expected to consider a short-term continuing resolution that funds the government until Jan. 19 and includes $2.5 billion in stopgap funding for CHIP, which would expire at the end of March. The program expired Sept. 30, but that didn't immediately create havoc because the federal government distributes funds through block grants.
It remains unclear if the Senate will go along with a short-term funding patch in the House bill. The funding in the bill up Thursday would be given to states that are having trouble continuing to provide insurance to low-income children.
CHIP provides block grants to states to fund insurance for nearly 9 million child.
The program is traditionally bipartisan but has been mired in partisan disputes over how it should be funded. Democrats are objecting to House Republicans’ plan to reauthorize CHIP for five years and pay for it through higher Medicare premiums for wealthy seniors and raiding an Obamacare disease prevention fund.
The House passed a bill in October that included those offsets and another offset that shortens the grace period between when a person neglects to pay their Obamacare premium and get their coverage revoked.