With the future of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) still uncertain, Erie families who depend on the insurance coverage wonder what to do next.
CHIP helps provide insurance to families to stop them from falling through the cracks, putting coverage within reach for kids and teens who are not eligible for or enrolled in medical assistance, yet can’t afford commercial insurance. CHIP insures more than 180,000 kids statewide and it costs nearly half of a billion dollars to run, federal money paying for almost 90%.
Congress failed to authorize funding in September, so Pennsylvania’s CHIP may only last until March if federal lawmakers don’t act soon. Some reports show that up to 20 states will run short of money in the first quarter of 2018. David González, MS Chief Executive Officer St. Martin Center, Inc., says, “without that, it instantaneously will create a crisis that an individual will need additional income, or they are not going to be able to work and they are going to have to access the welfare rules to be able to access healthcare so its a healthcare tool and economic development”.
Craig Ulmer, the Interim CEO of Community Health Net says they treat several patients covered under CHIP, but the organization also has a discounted services plan so if they were to lose coverage, health care is still available. He tells us, “that is where Community Health Net comes in. The family does not have to make that decision of health care versus the bills and food for the family; Community Health Net will be there”.
This is now considered the longest lapse in funding in the program’s history. CHIP has bipartisan support. It is exactly how to pay for the $15.6 billion a year program where the disagreement remains. Families just hoping to continue to have coverage for their families into the new year.