Cleveland Plain Dealer: Restore long-term funding for children's health programs

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That's true even though the Children's Health Insurance Program technically expired on September 30 after Congress failed to renew funding.

In November, the U.S. House passed a bill that Republican leaders said would provide a five-year extension to the CHIP program.

"Meanwhile, families in Alabama found a notice on the Department of Public Health's website saying that it would freeze enrollment in the Children's Health Insurance Program on the first of the year, and they would not renew any coverage after that date", Kennedy wrote.

"Extending funding for CHIP for 10 years yields net savings to the federal government because the federal costs of the alternatives to providing coverage through CHIP (primarily Medicaid, subsidized coverage in the marketplaces, and employment-based insurance) are larger than the costs of providing coverage through CHIP during that period", the nonpartisan budget agency writes.

A press conference was held Thursday at the Kanawha City Health Center in Charleston where health care advocates discussed the benefits of CHIP and the importance of continuing to serve the almost 21,000 West Virginia children who depend on the coverage.

Walden, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said new estimates by the Congressional Budget Office help clear the way for the program, the Hill noted.

A five-year reauthorization of the program, which costs the federal government about $14.5 billion a year, has bipartisan support. Last month, Congress approved an 11th hour plan by passing a short-term spending measure to keep the program going until March.

Had that accident happened this year, though, Natali, 50, of Aliquippa, Pa., might be scrambling. But Congress is now debating long-term funding options. Every single state in America - 50 out of 50 states - has a CHIP program. She can not afford private coverage for her two children on her dental hygienist pay. These low-income families need assurance CHIP payments will be there in the future. The CHIP benefits allow him to continue his work as a civil rights attorney, providing free representation for people with disabilities.

Congressional leaders are working on a deal to extend the program for five years, possibly as part of a broader agreement to fund the government before a January 19 deadline. The group practice hasn't changed any scheduling for CHIP patients, but he said "families are terrified" about the program having to be terminated.

"It really seems to be the impact of our fragmented health care system", said Ashish Thakar, the study's lead author.

Ariel Haughton of Pittsburgh said she's upset her federal lawmakers have left CHIP in flux for her two children and millions of kids around the country.