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Children's Health Insurance Funds Will Last Through January Unless Reauthorized

LightFieldStudios via iStock

In Utah approximately 19,500 kids are on the Children’s Health Insurance Program, also known as CHIP. It provides coverage for uninsured kids in low-to-middle-income households. But so far, the reauthorization of that program has stalled in Congress. 

The Children’s Health Insurance Program covers things like immunizations, prescriptions and hospital visits.

Utah’s money to pay for CHIP ran out in October. In response, the state petitioned the federal government to get more money to keep it going. About two weeks ago the Utah Department of Health received $13.8 million to cover CHIP through December.

"It’s certainly been disappointing to us to have to go through this situation and obviously for the families, it’s been stressful as well," says Tom Hudachko, a spokesmen for the health department. He anticipates getting another several million dollars to pay for it through January, but for now, that’s the extent of their funding.

CHIP is reauthorized every five years and most of the time it gets wide, bipartisan support. Hudachko says they expect that to happen when Congress gets to it, but the current delay is unique.

"To my knowledge we have not had a situation like this one where the reauthorization has lapsed," Hudachko says. 

There are bills to fund CHIP in both the U.S. House and Senate, including one introduced by Senator Hatch who helped create the program in 1997.  

Erik Neumann is a radio producer and writer. A native of the Pacific Northwest, his work has appeared on public radio stations and in magazines along the West Coast. He received his Bachelor's Degree in geography from the University of Washington and a Master's in Journalism from UC Berkeley. Besides working at KUER, he enjoys being outside in just about every way possible.
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