Authorization expired in September, and so far states have kept CHIP going with unspent funds carried over from previous appropriations.
"Meanwhile, families in Alabama found a notice on the Department of Public Health's website saying that it would freeze enrollment in the Children's Health Insurance Program on the first of the year, and they would not renew any coverage after that date", Kennedy wrote.
She said she's also glad to see that the state is committed to keeping kids enrolled in the Children's Health Insurance Program, known as CHIP - at least in the short term - even if Congress fails to fund the federal government's share.
According to the 2018-19 budget proposal for California: "Coverage for approximately 32,000 pregnant women and children [in California] is at risk if CHIP funding is not provided beyond March 2018 because they do not qualify for federally funded, full-scope [Medicaid]". The delay in reauthorizing CHIP has confused children's health advocates because both parties have supported CHIP since its creation in 1997. Orrin Hatch, who heads the Senate's Finance Committee, CBO Director Keith Hall said that a five-year extension of CHIP would cost the government $800 million over a 10-year period. That policy is expected to make the premiums in the Obamacare marketplaces more expensive - which means the federal government would have to spend more money subsidizing those premiums for low- and middle-income enrollees.
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If that accident happened later this year, though, Natali, 50, of Aliquippa, Pa., might be scrambling. She can not afford private coverage for her two children on her dental hygienist pay.
"These are kids", Walker said.
Dr. Todd Wolynn, a Pittsburgh pediatrician, said families are reacting with "fear and disbelief" to CHIP's uncertain future. The group practice hasn't changed any scheduling for CHIP patients, but he said "families are terrified" about the coverage disappearing.
Dr. Dipesh Navsaria, a Madison, Wis., pediatrician and vice president of the state's chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, worries that many parents will be surprised if their children are suddenly without coverage. "They might not have a family physician, or a clear support system". States are now faced with shutting down the program.
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"We need the leadership of our Congress to get with the program and to wake up to the needs of children", he said.
Kaiser Health News is a nonprofit news service covering health issues.
The federal government paid almost $14.5 billion for CHIP expenses in fiscal 2016, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
"It's nonsensical and it's frustrating and it's ridiculous, honestly", said Brown, vice chair of the National Governors Association Health and Human Services Committee.
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