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Connecticut CHIP to last an extra month unless it gets more money from Congress

Connecticut CHIP to last an extra month unless it gets more money from Congress
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Connecticut is extending its program to provide health insurance to low- and middle-income children another month, after lawmakers appropriated $2.85 billion to keep states’ programs temporarily afloat.

In mid-December, a notice on Connecticut’s website alerted families that the state’s Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) would end Jan. 31 unless Congress provided new federal funding. Before leaving town for the holidays, lawmakers passed a stopgap spending bill with additional funds for CHIP lasting through March 31.

Connecticut announced Friday that the new money has meant its program, called Husky B, won’t shutter Jan. 31, but warned the additional dollars from Congress are only enough to last through Feb. 28. More funding or a full reauthorization of CHIP is needed to keep the program running longer.

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“Please note that if Congress does vote to provide further funding for the CHIP program, services received and coverage in HUSKY B will continue past February,” according to a new notice on the state’s website.

Advocates and state officials have pushed for Congress to reauthorize CHIP for five years after Congress let the program lapse Sept. 30. CHIP enjoys bipartisan support, but Democrats and Republicans have argued this year over how to pay for it.

States had been getting by with leftover federal dollars while they examined how much longer they could keep their children’s health programs up and running.

The House passed a five-year reauthorization earlier this year, but Democrats decried the legislation’s offsets. The Senate Finance Committee approved a bipartisan bill, but never released how to pay for it.

Last week, Congress passed a short-term spending bill with money to help states continue to run their programs. Government funding will now expire Jan. 19, and lawmakers will look to negotiate a longer-term CHIP reauthorization bill when they return to Washington in the new year.

The funding in the short-term spending bill is expected to carry all states CHIP programs at least through Jan. 19, according to a Centers For Medicare and Medicaid spokesperson.

“However due to a number of variables relating to state expenditure rates and reporting we are unable to say with certainty whether there is enough funding for every state to continue its CHIP program through March 31, 2018,” the spokesperson wrote in an emailed statement.   

—Peter Sullivan contributed.