On Wellness in WV

Justice silent on CHIP

A bipartisan group of 12 governors sent a letter to Congressional leadership Tuesday, asking governors to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program, “as quickly as possible.” Congress let the program expire Sept. 30 and still hasn’t allocated new funding. West Virginia has been using leftover funding from the previous fiscal year to continue coverage.

They wrote:

We believe covering children and pregnant women without disruption is one thing we can all agree on.

For twenty years, this program has successfully provided vital health coverage and care to about nine million children. Without it, access to essential health services like well child exams, asthma medicine, and hospitalizations will be at risk. As health insurance premiums climb at unsustainable rates, this program gives hard-working families access to otherwise unaffordable coverage.

In the absence of Congressional action, we have worked to protect coverage for children and pregnant women in each of our states, but we will need federal support to continue the program.
Resources are nearly exhausted and some states already have begun to inform families that their children’s coverage may end on January 31.

Governor Jim Justice did not sign the letter. His spokesman has also not responded to a request for comment about the CHIP program sent two weeks ago.

The state’s CHIP board voted last month to shut down the program Feb. 28 if Congress doesn’t allocate funding. About 21,000 children in the state are covered by CHIP, and an additional 17,000 are covered by Medicaid plans that rely on CHIP money. In a letter sent Nov. 8, the Department of Health and Human Resources told West Virginia’s representatives in Congress that CHIP will shut down Feb. 28 unless federal funding is granted by Dec. 15 — Friday.

In an email Wednesday, Allison Adler, spokeswoman for DHHR, said:

We have been working with the end of December as our timeframe for passage of a funding bill.  This is a very fluid situation which we continue to monitor very closely.

At this time, the CHIP program plans to send notifications with more specific information to families and providers by early January 2018; however, services and benefits will continue as currently available for members through the end of February 2018.

Should Congress approve funding, the WV CHIP Board will meet to rescind the closure plan and the program will continue operations as usual.

We remain hopeful that West Virginia’s congressional delegation will continue to push funding for this critical children’s program.