I am writing to express my anguish and deep disappointment in Republican controlled Congress in delaying funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) - which has been a Bi-partisan initiative since 1997 and which covers around 9 Million Children nationwide and 68,500 Children in Virginia.
States have been able to spend leftover CHIP money from previous years, and that has kept Connecticut's HUSKY B program running since funding ran out at the end of the federal fiscal year on September 30.
Thousands of children in Alabama will lose coverage unless Congress can pass the authorization to extend funding for CHIP. Those children will keep their health care, but the state will have to pick up the cost of their coverage.
"We must do it very soon", House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said at a news conference with the Democratic Women's Working Group.
With no long-term funding agreement imminent, growing numbers of states have begun edging toward depleting their federal funds and commencing steps to cope with that.
Some states that are almost out of money are preparing to freeze enrollment or cancel CHIP coverage if lawmakers don't soon reach a deal. A third of states anticipate exhausting CHIP funding by the end of January, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation report out earlier in December.
Neighboring Alabama is freezing enrollment on January 1 and then will begin to disenroll families now in the program at the start of February. "It's just wonderful that now we're going to have or potentially have more people without health insurance", Rep. England said. Most states will run out of money by the end of March.
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Senator Pat Toomey's office said the CHIP funds will be reauthorized before there is any stop in coverage.
Kelly Haight, spokeswoman for North Carolina's health department, said the state's 220,000 children receiving assistance under the program "will not experience any interruption in benefits at this time" because the state had enough money for the beginning of 2018.
This is now considered the longest lapse in funding in the program's history.
States are expecting to know the program's fate by Friday.
Alabama has one of the more generous eligibility ranges for the program.
For 20 years, the program worked swimmingly - eventually covering 95 percent of the nation's children, or 8.4 million, including 172,000 beneficiaries in MA. The Senate has not voted, but Democrats there also refuse to tie any CHIP extension to higher Medicare premiums or siphoning money from the public health fund.
Instead, the short-term bill includes $2.9 billion for states to use for children's health plus authority for federal officials to continue distributing unspent program money to states running short.