October 27, 2017

Fate of Health Care Coverage for Florida Kids Relying on CHIP Remains Uncertain

Congress allowed the Children’s Health Insurance Program to expire last month

LAKE MARY, FL – The federal Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), created 20 years ago to cover uninsured children whose families earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but are unable to afford private insurance, is now almost one month past its sunset date.

Florida had the nation’s fourth largest CHIP-funded enrollment in fiscal year 2016, according to the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families (CCF). Along with Medicaid, CHIP has helped reduce the rate of uninsured children to an all-time low of 6.2 percent in Florida.

“Struggling families should not have to choose between taking their child to the doctor and putting food on the table,” said Joseph F. Pennisi, executive director of the Florida Policy Institute. “Every day that federal lawmakers fail to take action is another day of uncertainty for Florida families.”

As CCF points out in its latest report, “What Are the Consequences of Congressional Delay on CHIP?” states are quickly running out of funding for the program. Florida is slated to run out of funds at some point in January 2018, which would likely trigger coverage loss for 300,000 children currently enrolled in the Florida Healthy Kids and MediKids programs. The report, however, notes that family financial impacts from Hurricane Irma could deplete the state’s federal allotment even sooner.

Congressional inaction on the children’s health program will also have consequences for the state budget, as Florida is anticipating CHIP funding going into next year.

“Extending CHIP needs to be front and center on the U.S. House and Senate’s agenda,” added Pennisi.

The Florida Policy Institute is an independent, nonpartisan and nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting widespread prosperity through timely, thoughtful and objective analysis of state policy issues affecting economic opportunity.

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