Virginia’s CHIP funding in jeopardy

Jeremy Lazarus | 10/19/2017, 5:53 p.m.
Overshadowed by the uproar of President Trump’s attempt to defund government support of the Affordable Care Act for adults, 65,000 ...
Gov. McAuliffe

By Jeremy M. Lazarus

Overshadowed by the uproar of President Trump’s attempt to defund government support of the Affordable Care Act for adults, 65,000 children in Virginia and 9 million children across the country are now threatened with the loss of their health insurance.

Also under threat is health insurance coverage for thousands of low-income pregnant women in Virginia and other states.

And so is the federal support for community health centers, such as the Daily Planet and the Capital Area Health Network in Richmond, which serve people who lack insurance or are underinsured.

The Republican-dominated Congress failed to pass legislation to reauthorize the federal programs that created the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and community health centers before recessing Sept. 30.

So far Congress has failed to restore those programs, despite bipartisan support, including from conservatives such as Virginia Congressman Bob Goodlatte, R-6th, who describes himself as an “advocate of community health centers and the affordable care they provide.”

Gov. Terry McAuliffe has lashed out at the House and Senate for failing to act swiftly to restore the authorization for those crucial programs.

He said the CHIP program in Virginia, as well as the funding for community health centers, would run out in January if Congress does not act.

“Once again, dysfunction in Washington is putting the health and security of Virginia families at risk through the failure to reauthorize” CHIP and community health centers, he said.

“This is too important to fall by the wayside as Congress wages battles” over other issues, he said.

The governor also said it appears that there is some movement with the House and Senate working on reauthorization bills.

But the pace is too slow, he said.

“Virginia will have to begin issuing notices in late November that the insurance will lapse. We can’t wait, we need reeauthorization to be enacted immediately,” Gov. McAuliffe said.

Just as bad, he said the bills that are being worked on are likely to provide less money.

“The Affordable Care Act increased the percentage of funding for CHIP that came from the federal government. However, the current proposals to reauthorize CHIP propose to reduce federal spending to pre-ACA levels,” he said.

That means Virginia could be required to pay approximately $50 million in additional general funds starting in fiscal year 2020,” he said, “and more than $100 million each year after that” just to maintain the program at its current levels.