Some States Expected To Run Out of SCHIP Funding This Year
Some states could face an SCHIP budgetary shortfall if Congress does not provide additional funding, and state officials are warning that hundreds of thousands of children could lose their health insurance, the AP/Houston Chronicle reports.
An Associated Press survey found that at least 14 states could face a funding shortfall before the next federal fiscal year begins in October. Congress has not yet reached a decision on whether and how to give additional funding to states facing shortfalls. The lack of a decision "is making it difficult for some states to draw up their new budgets, because they do not know how much they will ultimately get from Washington," the AP/Chronicle reports.
States say the program needs an additional $745 million to cover current shortfalls. The amount of federal funds that each state receives is determined in part by the number of uninsured children in the state, which states argue unfairly punishes governments that launch aggressive enrollment campaigns.
State officials also contend that funding is based on outdated census data, which, for example, does not take into account recent population surges in some states stemming from people displaced by Hurricane Katrina.
Georgia Sens. Saxby Chambliss (R) and Johnny Isakson (R) have proposed shifting money from states with surpluses to cover states with projected shortfalls. President Bush is in favor of this type of redistribution of funds, according to Dennis Smith, director of the Center for Medicaid and State Operations. "There's plenty of money. It's just in different places," Smith said.
The funding situation is "most severe" in Georgia, which plans to stop enrolling children in its PeachCare program beginning March 11 because of a $131 million shortage, according to the AP/Chronicle. Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts and Alaska say they will run out of funds this spring.
Genevieve Kenney, a policy expert at the Urban Institute, said, "It's never been this much of a shortfall before. And Congress isn't moving" (McCaffrey, AP/Houston Chronicle, 2/22).