This Christmas, families who rely on the Children’s Health Insurance (CHIP) will not be getting notices warning them that their children will be losing healthcare. Thanks to a $135 million funding extension delivered to Texas via the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMMS), over 400,000 low-income pregnant women and children will retain their healthcare until at least the end of February 2018.
Before the funding extension from CMMS, Texas legislators had calculated that Texas’ CHIP funding would run out before the end of January 2018, meaning hundreds of thousands of Texans would be receiving notices that they were losing healthcare this holiday season. Near the end of November, however, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission took action and requested $90 million from CMMS, in an attempt to throw a lifeline to Texas’ CHIP program, giving it enough funds to continue through the end of February. Even though CMMS approved more than the requested $90 million, giving Texas $135 million, the program still only has enough funds to run through the end of February 2018.
Back in November, we wrote a blog post explaining what exactly had happened when Congress failed to re-authorize CHIP on September 30, and what the next steps were. At the time, CHIP’s future was largely unclear, and in a way it still is. However, Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s administration has made it clear they won’t let this program end without a fight, and U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) announced Congressional plans to pass a bill this week that would fund CHIP (nationwide) long-term. While there is no concrete proof or assumption that a bill will pass, Congress is at least working on a plan. This is imperative, as the result of non-action by Congress would be a “$3 billion funding hole over the next two years,” according to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.
Currently, Texas’ CHIP program covers more than 400,000 children who don’t qualify for Medicaid, but whose parents can’t afford private health insurance, as well as about 36,000 low-income pregnant women.