NPR, November 30, 2017
Selena Simmons-Duffin and Ashley Lopez, KUT

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This week, Colorado became the first state to notify families that children who receive health insurance through the Children's Health Insurance Program are in danger of losing their coverage.

Nearly 9 million children are insured through CHIP, which covers mostly working-class families. The program has bipartisan support in both the House and Senate, but Congress let federal funding for CHIP expire in September.

The National Governor's Association weighed in Wednesday, urging Congress to reauthorize the program this year because states are starting to run out of money.

In Virginia, Linda Nablo, an official with the Department of Medical Assistance Services, is drafting a letter for parents of the 66,000 Virginia children enrolled in CHIP.

"We've never had to do this before," she says. "How do you write the very best letter saying, 'Your child might lose coverage, but it's not certain yet. But in the meantime, these are some things you need to think about.' "

Children may be able to enroll in Medicaid, get added to a family plan on the Affordable Care Act's health exchange, or be put on an employer health plan. But the options vary by state and could turn out to be very expensive.

If Congress reauthorizes CHIP funding, states are in the clear. But they can't bank on it yet, and states have to prepare to shut down if the funding doesn't come through. Virginia would have to do so on January 31, 2018. [...]

health care finance health law policy insurance pediatrics public health regulation