Texas to receive $135M to keep Children's Health Insurance Program alive through February

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission sent a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday saying the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is giving the state $135 million to continue the program through February.

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission sent a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday saying the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is giving the state $135 million to continue the program through February.

By Marissa Evans

The Trump administration is guaranteeing Texas $135 million to continue helping more than 450,000 uninsured children and pregnant women if Congress does not renew authorization for the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Charles Smith, executive commissioner for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, sent a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday saying the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is giving the state funding to continue the program through February.

“Given this assurance, we do not intend to initiate steps to terminate CHIP this month,” Smith said. “I am confident that the state will receive sufficient federal funding to continue the program through February 2018.”

The letter comes after more than two months of fear among families who rely on the program that children in Texas and beyond would lose their health insurance benefits for checkups and treatments. The program expired Sept. 30 after Congress failed to renew funding.

Texas Health and Human Services Commission officials submitted a request with the federal government Nov. 16 for an extra $90 million to support CHIP in the state until February.

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, tweeted Friday afternoon that "Congress will pass a long term CHIP bill next week."

Under CHIP, the uninsured rate among children across the country has dropped from 15 percent in 1997 to 5 percent in 2015. The program also offers prenatal care to about 36,000 pregnant women in Texas. About 394,000 Texan children ineligible for Medicaid are covered under CHIP, and another 249,000 Texan children on Medicaid benefit from CHIP’s 92 percent matching rate. Together, Medicaid and CHIP cover about 45 percent of all children in the state.

Republican Texas House Speaker Joe Straus said in a statement that “the children who benefit from this program should never have been put in a position where they might lose care.”

“The written assurances from the administration will provide some short-term certainty for the program, and that’s important,” Straus said. “But the need for Congress to act quickly has not diminished, and I hope Congress will reauthorize the program soon in order to provide the longer-term certainty that working families in Texas need.”

Anne Dunkelberg, associate director at the Center for Public Policy Priorities, a liberal-leaning policy organization, said the guaranteed funding “just buys us 30 days.” If Congress doesn’t renew the program before January, it will be bad news for many families.

“They don’t have to send out sad letters to parents that their kids won’t have health insurance before Christmas, that’s the good news,” Dunkelberg said.

This article has been published in partnership with The Texas Tribune.


MOST RECENT

The Austin metropolitan statistical area surpasses COVID-19 pandemic job losses. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin regains all pandemic job loss, San Antonio nearly misses top 10 best performing metros in the country

The Austin and San Antonio metropolitan statistical areas continue their recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chief Patrick O'Connell became the fire chief in 2019. (Courtesy city of New Braunfels)
New Braunfels fire chief announces retirement effective Sept. 20

According to city officials, the chief officially retired Sept. 20. Assistant Chief Mike Wehman will serve as the interim chief until a full-time replacement can be found.

The resolution will provide district employees with five additional days on top of the state-mandated 10 days of paid leave. (Lauren Canterberry/Community Impact Newspaper)
Comal ISD approves five days of COVID-specific paid leave

The resolution will provide district employees with five additional days on top of the state mandated 10 days of paid leave.

The facility offers Autism Diagnosis Observation testing and applied behavior analysis therapy. (Courtesy Action Behavior Center)
Action Behavior Centers opens in New Braunfels, works to support families with children on autism spectrum

The new facility offers Autism Diagnosis Observation testing and applied behavior analysis therapy.

 Redistricting is one of the items on the Texas Legislature's third special session, and the state Senate released proposed maps on Sept. 18. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Texas Senate releases proposed redistricting maps as special session begins

Redistricting is one of the items on the third special session, and the state Senate released proposed maps on Sept. 18.

Photo of people attending ACL Fest
City of Austin approves ACL health and safety plan, holds off on final permit

Austin Public Health gave ACL the go-ahead to allow proof of vaccination in lieu of a negative COVID-19 test, but asked organizers to require masking in some areas.

The city of New Braunfels received a net payment of $4,117,696.83 in September for the month of July. (Courtesy Fotolia)
New Braunfels saw an increase of more than $1 million in sales tax for the month of July over last year

The city of New Braunfels received a net payment of $4,117,696.83 in September for the month of July.

A total of 656 confirmed and 341 probable cases were reported from Sept. 13-20 in Comal County. As of Sept. 20, there are 1,567 active cases in the county. (Courtesy National Institutes of Health)
More than 990 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 reported in Comal County between Sept. 13-20

A total of 656 confirmed and 341 probable cases were reported from Sept. 13-20 in Comal County. As of Sept. 20, there are 1,567 active cases in the county.

Wayback Burgers specializes in cooked-to-order burgers and hand-dipped milkshakes. (Courtesy Wayback Burgers)
Wayback Burgers coming to Leander; fire kills 75 dogs in Georgetown and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Central Texas area.

The brewery will remain open as changes are made. (Courtesy Kelly Meyer)
New owners of New Braunfels Brewing Company hope to combine original offerings with new creations

Brian and Jacklyn Hebert plan to continue serving some customer favorite brews while incorporating new styles and flavors.

Garffer came out on top in a region that included 57 school districts. (Photo courtesy NBISD)
Veramendi Elementary School teacher Melissa Garffer named Region 13 Teacher of the Year

Garffer came out on top in a region that included 57 school districts.