October 03, 2017

Without CHIP funding renewal, West Virginia will exhaust funds in April 2018 | Beckley Register Herald

Federal funding expired over the weekend for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and without a renewal, West Virginia is expected to exhaust its remaining federal funds for the program by April 2018.

According to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, 21,291 children are currently covered by CHIP in the state.

"Even though the federal CHIP funding was not authorized by Congress by the Sept. 30 deadline, children in our state will not suddenly lose their CHIP coverage," said Allison Adler, DHHR Director of Communications. "CHIP is examining strategies to extend funding as long as possible until Congress takes action. 

Adler said 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.

West Virginia Del. Mick Bates, D-Raleigh, said the failure to reauthorize funding for CHIP illustrates the "division, dysfunction and disorder" of the U.S. Congress.

"This program is just another example of Congress's inability to effectively address our health care system."

The program has helped meet the health care needs of children since 1997, but Bates said federal support is needed to keep them covered.

"Federal dollars drive state dollars," Bates said. "Without federal funds, I don't see any way the state of West Virginia is in a position to pick up these individuals."

In a release, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said Congress allowing funding to expire for the program is "nothing short of negligent."

The Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC), a non-partisan legislative branch agency that provides policy and data analysis, reported in July that all states are expected to exhaust their federal CHIP funds during fiscal year 2018.

“It is shameful that Congress is so dysfunctional that we cannot even manage to reauthorize funding for a program that ensures nine million children across America have access to health insurance," Manchin said. "The least we can do is put partisanship aside to protect our children, the most vulnerable among us."

The MACPAC report said if funding is not renewed, states will need to make decisions including whether to end separate CHIP, how to finance Medicaid-expansion CHIP with reduced federal spending, and how to provide information to families, providers and plans.

"In the coming days, I will continue working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure no child in West Virginia loses access to healthcare,” Manchin said.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said in a release that reauthorization legislation for the program is scheduled to be marked up Wednesday in the Senate Finance Committee.

“I understand the benefits the Children’s Health Insurance Program offers to many students in West Virginia," Capito said. "This is why for two decades, dating back to my time in the West Virginia State Legislature, I have championed this important program and support ongoing efforts to reauthorize it. The legislation to reauthorize CHIP that is advancing in the Senate has strong, bipartisan support.” 

By:  Wendy Holdren