Hospitals, Doctors Brace For Loss Of Children’s Health Funds

University of Chicago medical students host rally to call on Congress to reauthorize funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) on December 14, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. On September 30, congress let funding for CHIP expire, leaving states to carry the burden for medical expenses of the 9 million children enrolled in the program. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Providers of medical care are once again bracing for the loss of federal funding under the Children’s Health Insurance Program with the Republican-led Congress still unable to come up with a plan to fund it beyond March of this year.

new report last week indicates more than 20 states face CHIP funding shortfalls if Congress doesn’t act this month. And that’s beginning to worry hospitals and doctors who see a loss of 9 million children from low-income families who gain coverage from CHIP.

“If Congress fails to approve long-term funding for CHIP in January, nearly 1.7 million children in separate CHIP programs in 21 states with shortfalls in March 2018 could lose coverage by the end of February 2018,” Georgetown University Center for Children and Families researchers wrote in a new update on CHIP.

The GOP-led Congress passed a temporary budget a month ago that only extended CHIP through the end of March, putting children’s hospitals at a particular risk to lose money, analysts say. CHIP accounts for more than $15B in annual spending and more than 90% of it comes from the federal government with states picking up the rest.

“Much of the high complexity and high cost of care provided to children in the U.S. occurs at dedicated children’s hospitals,” The Chartis Group ’s pediatric services leader Brian Thygesen said. “Any reductions in utilization or funding from CHIP will immediately impact the bottom line of the nation’s children’s hospitals, not to mention the families who will feel the pain first.”

Physicians, too, are making a renewed push to Congress, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin to renew CHIP. Since the CHIP program was created as part of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 signed into law by then President Bill Clinton, there has typically been bipartisan consensus in Congress to renew it every five years.

“A continued delay in passing legislation to fund these programs for the long term is unacceptable—the negative consequences of Congressional inaction already are being felt and will be compounded in the coming weeks,” a letter from six doctor groups including the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Academy of Pediatrics says.

Article source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/brucejapsen/2018/01/15/hospitals-doctors-brace-for-loss-of-childrens-health-funds/

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