Texas Eager to Avoid Telling Nearly a Half-million Kids — Right Before Christmas — That They’ve Lost Health Coverage

AUSTIN — Gov. Greg Abbott’s administration is trying to avoid mailing health insurance cancellation notices to nearly half a million children three days before Christmas.Unless it can get $90 million more in federal funding, though, Texas will end its Children’s Health Insurance Program on Jan. 31. It would send notices about the program’s termination to affected families on Dec. 22. More than 400,000 children of the working poor currently are covered under CHIP, as the state-federal program is known.It has enough money to last through January, but Congress has balked at reauthorizing the program.The state Health and Human Services Commission, which runs Texas’ version, requested $90 million from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. That would allow CHIP to continue in Texas through February. If the federal agency does not agree by Dec. 9, the commission would prepare to end the program in January and refer families to Obamacare's online health insurance marketplace. But there are many concerns about moving families from CHIP to healthcare.gov, according to Adriana Kohler, senior health policy associate for the advocacy group Texans Care for Children.“Families might fall through the cracks, families might not be able to afford coverage in the marketplace,” Kohler said. “And then there’s the system issue that needs to be worked out. On the online marketplace, if you qualify for other insurance programs like CHIP, you cannot enroll in a marketplace plan. So these kids are technically eligible for CHIP, but their coverage will lapse after January.”  Continue reading...

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