As $1.5 Trillion Tax Overhaul Is Approved, Funding for Children's Health Care (CHIP) In Limbo
David Robinson Journal News December 20, 2017
New York health care leaders, lawmakers and even a prominent late-night talk show host recently warned Congress that unprecedented political brinksmanship is threatening health coverage for millions of children.
The national uproar involves the Children’s Health Insurance Program. It provides subsidized health care for children in families with incomes that are too high to qualify for Medicaid but are under 200 percent of the poverty level — or $40,840 for a family of three.
The Republican-led Congress missed the Sept. 30 deadline to fully fund the 20-year-old Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP. Its funding nationally requires approximately $15 billion, with New York's funding about just over $1 billion, according to a report by the Henry Kaiser Family Foundation.
Roughly 9 million U.S. children are enrolled in CHIP, including 350,000 in New York. Community leaders gathered this week in Westchester County to urge Congress to fund the program before the Christmas recess, according to Congresswoman Nita Lowey, D-Harrison.
“As states begin to exhaust their federal CHIP funding, leaving millions of children at risk of losing health coverage, congressional Republicans are plowing ahead with a $1.5 trillion tax bill instead of reauthorizing the program,” Lowey’s office said.
She said New York expects to exhaust its CHIP money in early 2018.
Talk show host Jimmy Kimmel and his son, Billy, both charmed Kimmel's viewers recently while calling for action on CHIP funding, which has historically enjoyed bipartisan support, USA TODAY reported.
Billy arrived in April with a serious congenital heart defect that required surgery immediately after his birth to repair a blocked pulmonary valve. He recently had a successful second surgery and Kimmel took a small hiatus from his late-night show.
"I was out last week because this guy had heart surgery, but look, he’s fine, everybody," the funnyman said getting choked up. "He may have pooped, but he’s fine."
"Daddy cries on TV, but Billy doesn’t — it’s unbelievable," Kimmel added before thanking the staff at Children's Hospital and talking about CHIP.
Another nationwide health program for mostly uninsured, homeless and poor Americans is similarly at risk of losing federal funding. The Community Health Centers Fund relies on millions of federal dollars but Congress has yet to reauthorize the money for coming years.
The Open Door Family Medical Centers sites in Westchester and Putnam counties are at risk of losing $4.2 million if the community health center money runs dry.
Open Door has five sites in Westchester: Port Chester, Ossining, Sleepy Hollow, Mount Kisco and Mamaroneck. It also has a site in Brewster in Putnam County.
The Open Door sites have about 55,000 patients overall, and as many as 5,000 in Westchester would be affected by the federal funding cuts, health center officials said.
The issue threatens health care provided to nearly 2 million New Yorkers at 65 health centers, according to the National Association of Community Health Centers.