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State says there’s enough money to keep the Children's Health Insurance Plan running until summer

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It’s been a worrisome few months for the families of 116,000 lower-income kids in our state, the ones who rely on the Children’s Health Insurance Program for their health care.

Even though CHIP has bipartisan support, it’s been lost in the congressional fight over tax reform and the budget. Its funding expired last September.

Congress managed to slap a Band-Aid on the problem by passing a continuing resolution just before Christmas, but that runs out on Jan. 19.

Now we hear that CHIP funds will last a little longer than first thought.

Kathy Stiffler of Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services joined Stateside to discuss the state of CHIP funds.

Listen to the full conversation above or read highlights below.

On CHIP’s reprieve in Michigan

“The CHIP program allotment for Michigan will last longer than for some states,” said Stiffler. While families in other states have been notified of the program’s end, that isn’t quite the case in Michigan, at least at the moment. “Our allotment should get us through at least June or July, based on the current continuing resolution,” she added.

Senator Debbie Stabenow’s office created confusion when it sent out letters notifying families that a critical children’s healthcare program was slated to end, but Stiffler believes the office was referring to a different program from CHIP. “We have not sent letters to MiChild families,” she said.

On CHIP’s importance

CHIP provides healthcare to a large number of families across the state. “The families need this service to help their children lead healthy and productive lives and assure the family doesn’t have financial struggles,” Stiffler said. “At the moment there’s no risk to Michigan families. We don’t want to scare them. We should not be causing alarm for families that are relying on this program.”

On how CHIP can survive

If CHIP suffers from cuts, its survival in Michigan may depend on the state Legislature. The state could put general funds toward the program, suggested Stiffler, or MiChild families could be converted into a Medicaid program, though that would require more state funds.

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