Health insurance coverage for some 17,000 children in Connecticut is in doubt, as Congress has failed to renew federal funding for what’s known as CHIP, the federal Medicaid Children’s Health Insurance Program or “Husky B.”
Earlier this month, Governor Dannel Malloy wrote to legislative leaders, warning them that if Congress doesn’t re-authorize funding for CHIP, the state could lose out on around $77 million in federal support.
“Stated simply, if Congress does not extend CHIP, Connecticut stands to lose about $37 million annually in regular CHIP funding for healthcare coverage for over 17,000 children and youth, and an additional $40 million annually in extra federal support for certain children covered under Medicaid,” Malloy wrote in the letter.
Senator Chris Murphy tweeted about the situation Tuesday.
It's indefensible to pass a tax cut for the wealthy that adds $1.4 trillion to the deficit and in the same breath argue we don't have the money to fund health care for low-income kids.
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) December 5, 2017
The state’s Medicaid director has said Connecticut’s own funding to run the program will run out at the end of February.
“I regret to say it: people should plan for the worst case,” said Ted Doolittle, the state’s Healthcare Advocate. “This program is going to go away in February.”
Kids on Husky B come from lower-income families, who may not otherwise be able to afford medical care. Doolittle said that’s why this coverage is so important.
“If the kid gets sick and the parents aren’t able to bring them in quickly, the situation can deteriorate and become much more expensive,” Doolittle said. “So in the end, this is investing a penny now to save a dollar later.”
Each state is facing a similar dilemma, but Connecticut may be one of the first to see its funding actually dry up. Doolittle said there's still time for Congress to do something, but he’s not hopeful they’ll fix the problem.