They baked chocolate chip cookies to raise awareness about the "CHIP" program, which provides affordable health insurance for working families. Legislators must act to fund CHIP by the end of January or many states will run out of funding for the program that serves 9 million children.
Health Secretary Kara Odom Walker said Thursday that funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program in DE will last until the end of February, delaying the chance of 8,300 children losing their health insurance for another month. Orrin Hatch, who heads the Senate's Finance Committee, CBO Director Keith Hall said that a five-year extension of CHIP would cost the government $800 million over a 10-year period.
"If we go to six years, it may have no cost", Walden said.
Dr. Joanne Hilden, a pediatric cancer physician in Aurora, Colo., and past president of the American Society of Hematology-Oncology, said cancer patients who are anxious their CHIP funding will run out can't schedule care ahead of time. While the 20-year-old program enjoys wide support from Republicans and Democrats, they have been unable to compromise on an extension over a funding dispute.
Alabama and Utah are among the states unsure how long their federal CHIP funding will last, according to interviews with state officials.
But it also expects that extending the CHIP program even further will actually save the government money. "We're going to have lower coverage for parents than we used to".
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Eleven states are expected to run through their remaining federal funds before the end of February: Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Washington State and Washington, DC.
As Republicans on Capitol Hill spent much of the fall cobbling together a tax reform package, Democrats criticized them for missing a September deadline without replenishing CHIP. But former Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who strongly supported the program as First Lady when it was enacted in 1997, put the onus on him to advance legislation. Every Child Matters, a non-partisan non-profit, urged the public to call on their elected representatives to "act immediately on a 5-year CHIP reauthorization".
"These families don't know if the rug is being pulled out from them at any time", he said.
In Ohio, covering the 200,000 children enrolled in CHIP costs about $45 million a month - a cost Ohio funds via Medicaid.
If CHIP gets canceled by the state, she likely won't bring Javier, 2, for his two-year checkup if nothing seems wrong. "We will have to decide between their health and spending the money on something else", she said. It is an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation that is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.