Connecticut to end children's health program unless it gets money from Congress

Connecticut to end children's health program unless it gets money from Congress
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Connecticut plans to shutter its health-care program for low- and middle-income children Jan. 31 unless Congress provides new federal funding.

Congress let the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) lapse on Sept. 30, to the frustration of state officials and advocates. The program provides insurance to nearly 9 million children nationwide.

States, including Connecticut, have been getting by with leftover funding from the federal government. But, according to a notice on Connecticut’s website, its extra funding is expected to run dry by Jan. 31.

The notice details the ways Connecticut will help children get health insurance, such as through the state's ObamaCare exchange or examining if they qualify for Medicaid, while encouraging parents to schedule preventive care visits and other medical appointments and refill medications before Jan. 31.

Funding CHIP is traditionally a bipartisan affair, and governors and children’s advocates have continually pressed lawmakers to reauthorize the program. Democrats and Republicans haven’t yet found a bipartisan way to pay for the program.

House Republicans released a short-term spending measure last week that would fund CHIP for five years, but with offsets Democrats have criticized.

It’s hard to see that measure flying in the Senate because Democrats would have to vote for it in order for the stopgap spending bill to pass.  

The lapse in funding has forced states to scramble. For example, Alabama announced it would freeze enrollment in its CHIP program starting Jan. 1. In late November, Colorado started sending notices to families saying the program would end Jan. 31 without new money from Congress.