Long-Term Deal for Children's Health Again Eludes Congress

Lawmakers OK emergency funding for kids' health insurance

More than 80,000 Alabama children stand to lose their health insurance on February 1 unless Congress restores funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program, state health officials have announced.

Congress failed to authorize funding in September, so Pennsylvania's CHIP may only last until March if federal lawmakers don't act soon.

Democrats and Republicans agree that finances for the Children's Health Insurance Program should be renewed for five years, but they've clashed over how to pay for it.

CT plans to end its HUSKY B children's health coverage January 31 unless additional federal funding becomes available, according to The Hill.

"It seems the Republican-controlled congress is trying to cut taxes instead for big corporations instead of providing healthcare to children". But this year, Congress has not reauthorized it. Alabama reduced the number of children without health coverage to 3 percent - in part by getting 95,000 kids into the CHIP program.

State officials could begin sending cancellation notices in January to meet a 60-day notification requirement, said Angela Minicuci, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

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Although Congress has stepped in and provided eleventh-hour money twice in recent months, the will-they-or-won't-they drama has put pressure on state officials about how to respond.

Cathy Caldwell, director of Alabama's CHIP program, said closing the program would be devastating for many families. They say they need lead time to keep recipients abreast about the status of their assistance and to adjust their programs if there's a chance state allotments might change.

"CHIP is one that we can not play games with", Lawrence said at a news conference of the Democratic Women's Working Group at the U.S Capitol. "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". Watchers are hoping a deal could come Friday, when the body has to pass something to keep the government operating.

This is now considered the longest lapse in funding in the program's history.

The Republican-controlled House has voted to extend the 20-year-old program for five years and would fund it by charging richer Medicare enrollees higher premiums and taking money from a public health fund created under the Affordable Care Act.

Alabama has one of the more generous eligibility ranges for the program.

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