Lack of Congressional Action Threatens Children’s Health Coverage in Connecticut

Couple working in home office with baby

Federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) expired at the end of September – and without reauthorization, this could mean major cuts to coverage for kids here in Connecticut and across the country.

How did we get here?  Historically CHIP has had bipartisan support in Congress.  A bill in the House did pass to fund CHIP. But it contained cuts to other health care programs that Democrats objected to. The Senate has yet to pass their own bill. Read more about the Congressional impasse that has prevented passing a CHIP funding bill.

What’s CHIP?

  • CHIP is a federal program that helps moderate-income families who don’t qualify for Medicaid (HUSKY A in Connecticut) purchase affordable health insurance for their children
  • CHIP is known as HUSKY B in Connecticut

What does losing CHIP funding mean for Connecticut?

  • Governor Malloy raised concerns in a December 1st letter to state legislative leadership, pointing out that
    • Coverage is threatened for over 17,000 children and teens,
    • Connecticut stands to lose $37 million in regular federal CHIP (HUSKY B) funding, and
    • An additional $40 million in additional Medicaid funding that helps cover some children on Medicaid (HUSKY A)
  • Funding for Connecticut’s HUSKY B could be gone by February, reports WNPR
  • Ted Doolittle, the state Healthcare Advocate. spoke to WNPR about this issue: “I regret to say it: people should plan for the worst case. This program is going to go away in February.  If the kid gets sick and the parents aren’t able to bring them in quickly, the situation can deteriorate and become much more expensive.  So in the end, this is investing a penny now to save a dollar later.”

What happens next?

There is hope that when (if?) Congress passes a continuing resolution this week to fund the government for two more weeks and prevent a government shutdown, it will include short-term funding for CHIP.  Once Congress is finished with tax “reform” a longer term fix may pass before the end of the year.  But that hope relies on Congress coming to agreement on the next continuing resolution to keep the government running for the rest of the fiscal year.

Read more in this CT Voices Policy Brief on HUSKY B / CHIP: Children’s Health Insurance: Federal Funding at Risk (Updated November 2017)

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