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November 13, 2017 Health Care

Low-income health insurance funding could run dry

Federal funds that help provide health insurance to Connecticut children and pregnant women in low-to-moderate-income families who don't qualify for Medicaid are expected to run out by February or sooner, according to the state Department of Social Services.

Congress has not yet extended the program, called Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), letting a Sept. 30 reauthorization deadline pass.

Connecticut is one of a dozen states expected to run out of CHIP funding in the next few months, if Congress doesn't act, according to the University of New Hampshire's Carsey School of Public Policy.

If CHIP coverage lapses, children and their families would become uninsured or be forced to switch to more expensive and less comprehensive health plans, UNH researchers said.

DSS spokesman David Dearborn said Connecticut could lose $37 million a year in CHIP funds, which covers more than 17,000 children.

Also at risk is up to $40 million in related funding, known as “SCHIP fix” funding, which provides extra support for Medicaid coverage of some children, he said.

There was some movement in Congress on Nov. 3, as the House approved a bill that would provide a five-year funding extension. However, the bill may not get through the Senate.

Democrats, who want a CHIP extension, are at odds with Republicans over how to pay for it. Republicans want to fund it by gutting an Obamacare public health program that pays for immunizations and lead poisoning and suicide prevention.

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