TMA to Congress: Renew Health Coverage Funding for 400,000 Texas Children

Although Texas officials are optimistic that federal funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) will be renewed, TMA is leading the Coalition of State Medical Societies' efforts in urging federal lawmakers to support the program through 2019 and beyond.

Federal funding for CHIP, which provides health coverage for almost 400,000 Texas children, expired Sept. 30. 

Texas is expected to have sufficient funds for the program until February, according to a letter from a Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) official to members of the Children's Health Coverage Coalition. However, the state would lose more than $1 billion annually if Congress doesn't reauthorize funds, HHSC Chief Deputy Executive Commissioner Cecile Erwin Young said in the letter.

About a dozen states will exhaust their federal CHIP allotments before the end of the year, and several have notified the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that they will need to suspend or end enrollment soon without swift congressional action. 

TMA and other state medical societies in October sent letters to the majority and minority leaders of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives exhorting them to support legislation that would extend funding for CHIP.

"We respectfully urge Congress to continue federal funding of CHIP at the enhanced matching rate in effect for each state as of Sept. 30, 2017," the coalition's letter states. "Loss of CHIP coverage would mean almost 9 million vulnerable children would be forced into the expensive, unstable individual marketplace, likely resulting in no access to health care. After the natural disasters that recently ravaged Texas, Louisiana, and Florida, disrupting or eliminating coverage for children could be disastrous to their health."

The Children's Health Coverage Coalition, of which TMA is a leading member, sent letters in early September to Gov. Greg Abbott and to Texas members of Congress, urging them to continue to fund the program at the enhanced matching rate, which for Texas had been about 93 cents for every CHIP dollar in 2018.

CHIP provides health care coverage for children in families who are financially ineligible for Medicaid but who can't afford private coverage or don't have coverage through an employer. As of April 2017, about 36,000 Texas women also received prenatal care and post-delivery checkups with CHIP funds.

The Coalition of State Medical Societies — a group of 10 state medical associations representing more than 180,000 physician and medical student members — includes TMA and the medical societies of Arizona, California, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and South Carolina.

Action, Oct. 17, 2017

Published On

October 16, 2017