In a joint letter to Congress, U.S. bishops,CHA and Catholic Charities USA are urging congressional members to extend funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program this year, prior to its expiration in 2015.
CHIP has been a reliable source of health insurance coverage since its inception in 1997, currently covering over 8 million low-income children in working families whose parents earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but too little to afford private health insurance. According to the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission, as many as 2 million children nationally could become uninsured because employer-sponsored family coverage is available but unaffordable. These families are ineligible for subsidized coverage in the new health insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act because the affordability test for employer-sponsored coverage under the ACA is based on self-only coverage, not on the cost of family coverage, making these families ineligible for premium subsidies in the exchanges.
Under current law, funding to states for CHIP is set to end on Oct. 1, 2015, unless Congress extends funding. If funding is not extended, states will have no choice but to begin planning for the end of CHIP early next year. Companion bills in the Senate and the House would extend CHIP funding through the 2019 fiscal year, matching the program's current authorization.
In a Dec. 1 letter to Congress, Sr. Carol Keehan, DC, CHA's president and chief executive officer; Miami Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski, chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development; and Fr. Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA, wrote that access to adequate health care is a basic human right, and critically important to the well-being and development of children. "We believe CHIP (funding) must be extended through the FY2019 authorization period in order to ensure adequate, affordable coverage and a responsible transition for children to family coverage."
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