Virginia is planning to send a letter to enrollees in the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) on Tuesday informing them that they could lose their coverage on Jan. 31 if Congress does not renew the funding.
CHIP’s authorization expired on Sept. 30, and states are now nearing the point where they will run out of funds. Congress is expected to renew funds for the program either this month or next, but the uncertainty from not having acted yet is leading some states to warn enrollees about the possibility of losing coverage if Congress does not act.
“We are hopeful that Congress will once again provide the funding to continue this program. However, because Congress has not acted yet, we need to let you know that there is a chance the FAMIS programs may have to shut down,” a Virginia state agency writes in the letter to be mailed to enrollees, using the state’s acronym for the program.
“If any FAMIS members need medical or dental care, make an appointment to visit your doctor or dentist before January 31,” the letter continues.
The state says it will send another letter if Congress passes funding for the program or if coverage will be terminated because Congress failed to act.
Nine million children nationwide depend on the program including about 70,000 in Virginia.
“It is truly shameful that gridlock and dysfunction in Congress have left nearly 70,000 Virginians who depend on the FAMIS program hanging in limbo,” Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) said in a statement. “After delaying these notifications to give Congress as much time to act as possible, Virginia has a responsibility to these families to inform them of the possibility that their coverage could lapse so they can be as prepared as possible to explore alternatives.”