The Children’s Health Insurance Program’s funding still has not been renewed, and Oklahoma, along with every other state, is trying to determine what the impact could be.
CHIP was created in 1997 to provide healthcare coverage for uninsured children who didn’t qualify for Medicaid. In Oklahoma, SoonerCare combines CHIP and Medicaid resources to provide coverage for uninsured Oklahomans. As of 2017, 804,569 people, 533,653 of whom are children, are enrolled in the program. Last year, the program covered 8.9 million children nationwide. The deadline for renewal was September 30, but so far, Congress has not done so.
Oklahoma Healthcare Authority spokesperson Jo Stainsby said right now, OHCA may have to eliminate some of SoonerCare’s stand-alone programs.
“If congress fails to reauthorize Soonercare, we’ll have to determine what to do,” Stainsby said. “We can continue to offer Soonercare as we currently do, but we’d get a much smaller match.”
Stand-alone programs currently funded by CHIP include broad programs, like employee sponsored insurance coverage for children and dental care, as well as more specific programs like a breast and cervical cancer treatment program and Soon-To-Be-Sooners, which provides benefits for pregnant women. Stainsby said the OHCA will start giving notice for any possible cuts on November 1.
“We are considering the possibility of doing away with some of the stand-alone CHIP programs,” Standby said.
Approximately 5,109 people are enrolled in these stand-alone programs statewide according to Standby. Approximately 12,115 of the 47,557 people that make up Carter County’s population were enrolled in SoonerCare as of August., with 7,658 of them being children under the age of 18, according to the Oklahoma Health Care Authority.
Right now, Oklahoma has CHIP funding that will last until April 2018. Stainsby said if the federal program is not renewed, the next step would be to work with the state government to try to secure funding to fill the gap.
We’d have to work with state leadership to see,” Stainsby said. “If not, we’d have to determine what eligibility levels they’d want for the program.”
Stainsby said the agency is working to determine which CHIP eligibility categories will no longer be covered by federal funds, should it come to that.
According to a the Kaiser Family Foundation survey, 11 states expect to run out of CHIP funding before December of this year. The CHIP portion of SoonerCare is not expected to run out of funding until April 2018.
The House of Representatives is set to vote on whether to extend CHIP funding next week.