Congress’ failure to renew the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) has put the health and wellness of 9 million children at risk.
September 30 was the deadline for lawmakers to permit a five-year renewal of the federal program geared toward providing affordable health care to children of lower and moderate-income families.
Although the failure to meet the deadline means Congress has officially allowed the program to expire, it is still possible to salvage CHIP. The method of allocations for its funds allows states to maintain the program as the Senate and House decide their course of action on the program.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Ia.) claimed an “overwhelming number of states” can afford to continue operating the program.
“So think that in other words, there’s a few days leeway—there might be a few weeks leeway,” Sen. Grassley said. “I can’t be specific because I don’t know, but it’s too bad it’s not done right now.”
According to Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, his state isn’t among those with enough funds to keep its children insured by CHIP afloat.
“Originally we were told it wouldn’t be until after the first of the year that we’d run out of money,” Portman told Business Insider. “Now we think actually in Ohio we could run out of money in by the end of this year by December 31. So it’s an issue, we gotta get it moving.”
Other politicians find the lackadaisical attitude towards the bill concerning.
“There seems to be a nonchalance about this funding stream in Washington that simply does not match the reality on the ground,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said Friday, according to the New Haven Register.
CHIP costs $14 billion annually and was spearheaded by the Clinton administration in 1997. It was last renewed by the Obama administration in 2015.