Idaho considers funding if children's health program ends

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BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Many depend on the Children's Health Insurance Program to help pay for their child's medical care. More than 22,000 Idaho children were on CHIP as of October.

But the program is at risk of losing its federal funding, which could put new costs on the state.

Congress failed to reauthorize the program in the fall, halting new funding. Idaho and all other states now are spending the last of their money for CHIP while lawmakers debate how to pay for the program's renewal.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is working on a possible contingency plan if Congress fails to act. It will put CHIP kids on Medicaid, which would keep them covered and allow them to keep seeing the same health care providers, the Idaho Statesman reported .

That solution will cost Idaho millions of dollars.

Idaho's CHIP program is 100 percent federally funded. But Idaho Medicaid is only about 71.5 percent federally funded. So for each child moved off of CHIP, Idaho would have to pay 28.5 percent of the cost of their health insurance instead of zero percent.

It would cost an estimated $9 million to complete the fiscal year.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services would need to approve the switch, and the Idaho Legislature would have to approve the new spending.
Information from: Idaho Statesman,

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