The program, created in 1997 as a means to provide health care for impoverished children, covers almost 10 million youth nationwide and almost 50,000 children in Mississippi. The program is a boon to families struggling with low-income situations. In Mississippi, a family of three earning no more than $3,302 is eligible for CHIP aid.
With the most obvious beneficiaries being children, prior authorization of the program was easy to obtain, from both sides of the political aisle. Even Republican congressmen, particularly Sens. Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker, voted to re-authorize the program in past years. The current Congress, however has allowed the program to discontinue.
The immediate problem with this lies with the fact most states have passed final budgets for the next fiscal year under the assumption congress would reauthorize CHIP and that they would be receiving federal CHIP funds. Many states also banked on a 23 percentage-point increase in CHIP funding that was part of the Affordable Care Act, and accounted for that generosity in their budgets.
The program will, consequently, fail for some states quicker than others. Mississippi will be one of the first states to lose the program if Congress does not renew CHIP funding. Earlier this year, the Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Management Associates surveyed state Medicaid officials about their state budget assumptions and future plans for CHIP in the absence of funding and uncovered a total of 11 states whose budgets are set to expire between October and December with Congress’ continued dithering.