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Stopgap CHIP Funding Not Enough, PA Officials Say

Matt Rourke
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signs legislation reauthorizing Pennsylvania's Children's Health Insurance Program.

Congress has adjourned for the year without fully finishing its spending plan—holding off a government shutdown by passing a few months of stopgap funding.

It includes some money for the Children’s Health Insurance Program—something the deadlock had called into serious question.

But Pennsylvania officials say that doesn’t help much.

In the days leading up to the stopgap agreement, they had warned the program would have to end sometime early next year if federal lawmakers didn’t act.

The agreement hands down $3 billion to states.

But Pennsylvania Human Services spokeswoman Rachel Kostelac said it’s still not clear how much money the commonwealth will get, or how long it will last.

“Our folks are still trying to figure out exactly what that means for our program,” she said. “I think we’re looking for some guidance right now before our budget people can really release the number and the timeline for us.”

CHIP insures over 180,000 children in Pennsylvania, and is 90 percent funded by the federal government.

That funding expired at the end of September.

Kostelac said she’s optimistic longer-term revenue will come—though she has reservations.

“CHIP, for 25 years, has seen bipartisan support across party lines, and everyone has always loved the CHIP program, so we do still remain hopeful,” she said.

“Although,” she added, “we’ve been hopeful for months now.”

She says one thing is certain—a long-term plan is vital if the bipartisan program is going to survive for more than a year.

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