The Brown administration has formally requested continued funding of the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Children’s advocates in California are worried that Congress might use funding of the program as a bargaining chip.
“This is a critical source of funding for California’s children, and across the nation,” said Alison Buist, health policy director of Children’s Defense Fund-California. She said half the children in California are covered by CHIP and Medi-Cal. “We know this program has strong bipartisan support in Washington,” she said. “We’re afraid it could get caught up in partisan politics over other issues.”
Congress is expected to revisit current funding of the Affordable Care Act in the next session, and Buist doesn’t want this particular issue to be held hostage in that negotiation.
In an Oct. 30 letter to Congressional leaders, California HHS Secretary Diana Dooley urged quick action on extending CHIP funding scheduled to expire in September 2015.
“If federal CHIP funds are not renewed for … 2015, California could lose upwards of $553 million annually,” Dooley wrote. “Renewal of federal CHIP funding is extraordinarily important to California’s fiscal stability and the ability to offer cost-effective, affordable coverage for children and pregnant women.”
Even though the program is funded until September 2015, state budgets are being designed now, Buist said. In California, the proposed budget is due from the governor by Jan. 10, 2015.
“States need to have certainty of what funds are available,” Buist said. “We’ve been pushing for this to be taken care of as quickly as possible. States just can’t wait.”
“This is an important investment in children’s health care,” Dooley wrote. “The loss of such funding would put gains in children’s and infants’ health coverage at risk.”