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Children's Health Insurance Funding Nears End in Colorado


Wednesday, December 20, 2017   

DENVER – Colorado's financial reserves have kept the Children's Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, running since Congress allowed funding to expire at the end of September.

But Erin Miller, vice president of health initiatives with the Colorado Children's Campaign, says those reserves are almost tapped, and unless Congress restores funding, some 90,000 children and pregnant women who rely on the program annually could lose coverage.

"If we don't have a federal guarantee that financing for this program is going to continue, families are going to get letters letting them know that their coverage is ending, that they need to find new coverage,” she explains. “And so those letters are scheduled to go out at the end of December, because coverage is going to end at the end of January."

Miller says pregnant women with due dates in February have been told unless CHIP funding is restored, their health coverage will expire before they give birth.

Republican leaders have promised to replenish the program that covers 9 million children nationally before the end of the year.

Miller notes that one proposal in the U.S. House would extend financing for CHIP for five years, but the money would come from cuts to Medicaid, Medicare and preventive public health programs.

Miller explains that CHIP provides a critical bridge for families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but still can't afford private insurance for their children.

"The families who are on CHIP are working, and they're almost financially secure,” she explains. “If they have a lapse in coverage and say their kid has asthma, and that kid can't get their meds, has to go to the emergency room and ends up admitted – that possible admission would cost them everything they have."

Miller adds making sure children get off to a healthy start has broad social benefits, and she points to research showing that children with health coverage are more likely to finish high school and college, and have higher income as adults.

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