Colorado’s Gov. Hickenlooper to seek emergency CHP+ funding
Author: Marianne Goodland - December 19, 2017 - Updated: December 20, 2017
Gov. John Hickenlooper, in an effort to keep health insurance going for low-income children and pregnant women, Tuesday asked for emergency funds for the Children’s Health Plan Plus program (CHP+).
Hickenlooper sent his request to the General Assembly’s Joint Budget Committee.
“Vulnerable children and pregnant women are being used as bargaining chips,” Hickenlooper said in a statement. “This request is not a cure. It’s a one-time only band-aid as we wait for Congress to do what’s right and secure CHIP funding.”
CHP+ is a Colorado program that provides medical and dental care for low-income children and pregnant women whose income is too high to qualify for Medicaid but cannot otherwise afford private health insurance.
Federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) ran out on Sept. 30. The Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing has been able to cover the CHP+ program with existing funds. But that money runs out on Jan. 31, 2018.
Hickenlooper’s request asks the Joint Budget Committee to tap the CHP+ Trust Fund to support the program through February. That would allow extra time for for Congress to act and reauthorize the funding or for the General Assembly to decide whether and how to continue to cover individuals currently enrolled in CHP+, the governor’s office said.
The cost to extend the CHP+ plus program through the end of February is $9.6 million. The program serves approximately 73,700 children and about 800 pregnant women annually.
The JBC can make spending decisions when the legislature is not in session for extraordinary items at the request of the Executive Branch.
Kelly Causey, president and CEO of the Colorado Children’s Campaign, said his 75-member CHIP Coaltion applauds the governor for seeking the supplemental funding. This emergency request allows the state to delay sending termination notices to tens of thousands of Colorado families during the holidays, Causey said in a statement. “While we realize that Colorado does not have sufficient state funds to continue the CHP+ program in perpetuity, we urge the Joint Budget Committee to immediately consider and approve this short-term fix.” The CHIP Coalition sent a letter to Colorado’s congressional delegation Tuesday, asking them to support an extension of funding for the health plan through 2022.
Congress is currently negotiating a stop-gap funding measure to keep the federal government operating after Dec. 22, and lawmakers in both parties are urging a CHIP extension in that spending resolution.