38,000 WV CHILDREN AT RISK OF LOSING HEALTHCARE COVERAGE

(10/06/2017)

The about 38,000 children in West Virginia who rely on the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for coverage aren’t in danger of immediately losing their insurance.

But they could be losing coverage in 2018.

The WV Department of Health and Human Resources says that the Republican Congress failed to reauthorize the 20-year-old program by the deadline Saturday, likely a victim of the healthcare debate.

CHIP is 100-percent federally funded in West Virginia.

Allison Adler, a spokeswoman for WV-DHHR, said CHIP program and Medicaid coverage for children may be in jeopardy.

Adler said West Virginia officials estimate that the program will not run out of funds until early 2018. She said, in an email, that “children in our state will not suddenly lose their CHIP coverage.”

The state received $61 million in federal funds for the program in federal fiscal year 2017, she said. She said the state typically spends about $50 million per year.

“If Congress does not reauthorize CHIP funding prior to the program running out of resources, families and the public will be notified prior to any changes in enrollment that must be made,” Adler said.

West Virginia is one of 12 states with a 100-percent federally funded CHIP program, a result of the Affordable Care Act. The ACA, also known as Obamacare, raised the federal matching rate by 23 percent until 2019.

“The DHHR and CHIP remain hopeful that Congress will act expeditiously to pass the reauthorization bill in the near future,” she said.

Nearly 9 million children are covered nationwide.


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