National Governors Association: Short-term fix for children's insurance program insufficient

National Governors Association: Short-term fix for children's insurance program insufficient
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The National Governors Association is urging Congress to pass a five-year reauthorization of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) this week. 

House Republicans have included funding for the program in a stopgap bill, but the funding expires at the end of March.

“Governors have asked Congress to extend the Children’s Health Insurance Program for five years long before Congress allowed it to expire in September," the NGA wrote in a letter to Congress, adding that the short-term fix will not stop termination notices for some states. 

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Virginia and Connecticut sent notices to more than 68,000 families this week indicating that, unless Congress acts quickly, coverage will be terminated at the end of January. 

Alabama will freeze enrollment Jan. 1 and Connecticut will do so Dec. 23 unless Congress acts soon. 

States have been using reserve funds and unused money from the federal government to keep their programs running past Sept. 30, which is when the program expired. 

Democrats had been hammering Republicans for passing their sweeping tax-cut legislation while CHIP remained in limbo, arguing it would leave millions of families who depend upon the program uncertain over their future at the holidays.

Children’s advocates and state officials have been urging Congress to pass a five-year reauthorization of the program.

Lawmakers are scrambling to pass a bill to keep the government funded through Jan. 19. Without a new funding bill, the government would shut down on Saturday.

The House passed a partisan bill to reauthorize CHIP and community health centers earlier this year, but Democrats derided how the GOP planned to pay for the measure.