The Senate Finance Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee each have scheduled a mark-up on October 4, 2017 on separate bills to extend funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). CHIP was established in 1997 with bipartisan support and allows states to cover children in families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but cannot access or afford private insurance. Every state has a CHIP program, and nearly all states cover children at least up to 200% of the federal poverty level ($40,840/year for a family of 3 in 2017). CHIP covered nearly 9 million children in 2016, and, together with Medicaid, has helped reduce the uninsured rate for children to a record low of 5%.
The federal government matches state CHIP spending up to an annual limit, but federal funding for CHIP expired on September 30, 2017. Without action by Congress, the majority of states will face an FY2018 budget shortfall. As of late summer 2017, 10 states anticipated that they would exhaust CHIP funds by the end of 2017, and 32 states projected running out of funds by March, 2018. As states run out of federal funds, some will take action to freeze enrollment or end coverage, which would lead to coverage losses for children.
Table 1 below provides a high level summary of key provisions in the Senate and House CHIP bills, and Table 2 provides a more detailed comparison.