Children and Community Health Centers Dangling by a String

Congress got waylaid in its protracted efforts to take down the ACA, causing it to move directly to the tax bills. Meanwhile, families, clinics and states are wondering what will happen to them if Congress doesn’t reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and the Community Health Center Fund, both of which expired September 30th. There has been no movement on either front lately and six states will exhaust CHIP funds by the end of the year or in January. Many states, including ours, have received emergency funds to sustain their programs in the short term. (Washington State has delayed plans to notify some families in early December about pending loss of CHIP coverage.) Community health centers (CHCs) are making contingency plans as the new year quickly approaches; 25% of CHCs begin new grant periods beginning January 1, and an additional 17% begin grant years February 1. Most CHCs are expected to implemented hiring freezes if they haven’t already. Congress shouldn’t lose sight of CHIP and CHC funding while they grapple with other issues.

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