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What Happens If Congress Doesn’t Renew CHIP

Health

Governing

By Chris Kardish

From its inception in 1997, the Children’s Health Insurance Program has enjoyed a large measure of bipartisan support. After all, who wouldn’t support insuring kids? But given the state of national politics, its reauthorization next year is in some doubt. And if the program isn’t reauthorized, states will be left scrambling to fill budget holes and find ways to maintain coverage for some 4 million children at a cost that could climb into the billions.

Like Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is funded jointly by the states and the federal government. Unlike Medicaid, CHIP insures children from families with higher income levels and comes with a significantly better federal matching rate. On average, the federal government pays 57 percent of the costs for Medicaid but 70 percent of the costs for CHIP. How each state would be affected if CHIP is not renewed varies, since each state runs its program differently. Some states keep their CHIP programs wholly separate from Medicaid; other states have simply expanded Medicaid to encompass CHIP; still others operate a combination of the two depending on income levels…

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