Thursday, October 5, 2017

Governor urges Congressional action to restore children’s health program

CHIP funding will run out here in January 2018; notices will go out by Dec. 1 to families who will lose coverage

Once again, health care advocates are alarmed about loss of funding for children and pregnant women. In the drama over the latest effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Congress let funding expire for The Children’s Health Insurance Program, also called CHIP.

In Washington state, these funds will run out in January 2018. The state is preparing to notify families of about 16,000 children that they will lose coverage.

According to the governor’s office, CHIP provides access to essential health care services to about 60,000 Washington children each year.

Congress has known for two years that funding was set to expire this fall, but failed to act.

On Wednesday, committees in both the Senate and the House passed bills to restore funding, but the House version hit considerable resistance from committee members who opposed paying for the program, in part, by making cuts to Medicare and the Affordable Care Act.

Gov. Inslee’s letter to Congress



The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) covers pregnant women and children. Like Medicaid, CHIP is administered by states according to federal requirements. Federal dollars pay for 88 percent of the program in Washington, and state funds cover the rest. CHIP covers routine and preventive care and emergency services. 

Nationally, children in families at twice the federal poverty level (about $49,000 for a family of three) qualify. In Washington, the qualifying income was extended.  Our state uses CHIP funding to also cover children in families at 250 to 312 percent of the federal poverty level ($51,000 to $61,000 for a family of three), but depending on income level families may have to pay a premium.

About 16,000 kids in Washington state fall into the higher range, and they stand to lose coverage February 1, 2018.

Generally, the program is for children whose families make too much to qualify for Medicaid, but too little to afford care in the private market.


Washington state is expected to exhaust its funding in January 2018.


Yes, but there is no consensus in the House; and the Senate is still working out financing details for its bill.

The House version would offset costs for CHIP by cutting funds for Medicare and the Affordable Care Act. 

The Kaiser Family Foundation has a fact sheet on the two proposals.


Federal funding has stopped. States are still spending allocations. Washington state is expected to exhaust its CHIP funds in January 2018. Notices will go out Dec. 1 to families who will lose coverage for their children.

As with Medicaid, CHIP appears to be caught up in efforts to reduce federal health spending in favor of tax cuts.