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PNS Daily Newscast - January 22, 2018 


The funding stumble in Congress deepens the crisis for health centers; also on our nationwide rundown; we will let you know about concerns over possible "gifts" to payday lenders; and a new survey provides alarming numbers about young people and homelessness.

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Congressional Delays In CHIP Funding Bringing Chaos

Doctors say they are worried that more children will show up in emergency rooms, sicker, if Congress continues to fail to fund the Children's Health Insurance Program. (Pixabay)
Doctors say they are worried that more children will show up in emergency rooms, sicker, if Congress continues to fail to fund the Children's Health Insurance Program. (Pixabay)
December 21, 2017

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Healthcare systems are now bracing for chaos as Congress failed to fund the Children's Health Insurance Program.

According to a new analysis by the Georgetown Center for Children and Families, half of all state CHIP programs will have to shut down by the end of next month. Five states, including Virginia, won't even last that long.

Linda Nablo helps run the Virginia Family Access to Medical Insurance Security program. As Congress has broken repeated promises to deal with the issue, she said they may now have to tell the families of 100,000 children their health coverage could end in a few weeks.

"I may now have to mail out another letter, saying. 'No, it's not January 31, it's much earlier than that.’” Nablo said. "If you're a parent, especially if you're a parent of a very sick child, what do you think?"

West Virginia expects to run out of funding in March.

A plan to fund CHIP by cutting preventive and other care has backing in the House. But congressional leaders set that aside to pass the big tax bill, which includes corporate and estate tax cuts.

Some House Republicans argue that CHIP funding has to be offset to avoid increasing the federal deficit. But as they debate those issues, emergency room doctors say they're planning for when the FAMIS children start showing up after losing coverage - often much sicker than they would be with it.

Dr. Sam Bartle at the Children's Hospital of Richmond said he expects to see those parents trying to make heartbreaking decisions about their children's illnesses.

"'Should I bring them in now or can I wait? Is his wheezing, his difficulty breathing bad enough yet to come in? Can I wait until later and see if it gets better?' For some conditions, that can be deadly,” Bartle said.

Virginia is not the only state in this situation. Alabama reduced the number of children without health coverage to 3 percent - in part by getting 95,000 kids into the CHIP program.

Alabama CHIP director, Cathy Caldwell, said many of those families are starting to panic.

"Our phones are ringing off the wall,” Caldwell said. "We have panicked families wondering what in the world they have as options."
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Healthcare systems, including Virginia's, are now bracing for chaos as Congress fails to fund the Children's Health Insurance Program.

According to a new analysis by the Georgetown Center for Children and Families, half of all state CHIP programs will have to shut down by the end of next month. Five states, including Virginia, won't even last that long.

Linda Nablo helps run the Virginia Family Access to Medical Insurance Security program. As Congress has broken repeated promises to deal with the issue, she said they may now have to tell the families of 100,000 children their health coverage could end in a few weeks.

"I may now have to mail out another letter, saying. 'No, it's not January 31, it's much earlier than that.’” Nablo said. "If you're a parent, especially if you're a parent of a very sick child, what do you think?"

West Virginia expects to run out of funding in March.

A plan to fund CHIP by cutting preventive and other care has backing in the House. But congressional leaders set that aside to pass the big tax bill, which includes corporate and estate tax cuts.

Some House Republicans argue that CHIP funding has to be offset to avoid increasing the federal deficit. But as they debate those issues, emergency room doctors say they're planning for when the FAMIS children start showing up after losing coverage - often much sicker than they would be with it.

Dr. Sam Bartle at Children's Hospital of Richmond said he expects to see those parents trying to make heartbreaking decisions about their children's illnesses.

"'Should I bring them in now or can I wait? Is his wheezing, his difficulty breathing bad enough yet to come in? Can I wait until later to see if it gets better?' For some conditions, that can be deadly,” Bartle said.

Virginia is not the only state in this situation. Alabama reduced the number of children without health coverage to 3 percent - in part by getting 95,000 kids into the CHIP program.

Alabama CHIP director, Cathy Caldwell, said many of those families are starting to panic.

"Our phones are ringing off the wall,” Caldwell said. "We have panicked families wondering what in the world they have as options."

Caldwell and Nablo both stressed, as the funding runs low, programs start to incur long-term damage.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV