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Feds’ health program for children could end

Posted on Tuesday, December 12, 2017 at 5:00 am

A federal program that covers the health insurance costs of numerous Louisa children from low-income households is in jeopardy.

Congress failed to fund the next year of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) before it expired at the end of September. Unless lawmakers act by Friday to revive the program, state officials will send letters to families informing them their children are about to lose coverage.

“We are looking at a stopgap to give Congress time,” William Hazel, Virginia secretary of health and human resources, said on Nov. 30 at the Virginia Press Association’s Legislative Day.

He said it would cost the state $270 million to inherit full responsibility for the program. Currently, the federal government pays 88 percent of CHIP’s cost, with the state picking up the remainder, according to a 2017 report by Voices for Virginia’s Children, a nonprofit advocacy group. Prior to passage of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, the federal share was 65 percent.

CHIP was created in 1997 to insure children whose families earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but can’t afford to buy private insurance coverage. In Virginia, the federal funding is channeled into two programs, FAMIS (Family Access to Medical Insurance Security) and FAMIS Plus.

To read the entire story, see the Dec. 7 edition of The Central Virginian.

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