Hundreds of kids in the Ozarks could lose health insurance after program expires

Published: Dec. 7, 2017 at 6:09 PM CST
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The Children's Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, serves about 9-million kids across America. Hundreds of those kids are seen by doctors at Jordan Valley Community Health.

Cory Compton is one many young parents receiving Medicaid assistance for their little ones.

Compton said, "When she wakes up in the morning, am I going to have to worry about if I can take her to the doctor for a cough? Is she going to get sent home because she can't see a doctor because she is sick at school? These are the things every parent worries about."

Another program is the Children's Health Insurance Program or CHIP. It's for families who make too much money to qualify for Medicaid but don't make enough to afford private health insurance.

The $15.6-billion program was set to expire in September if Congress didn't act. Lawmakers did not pass the extension, and now the remaining money is almost gone.

"There would be a large number of kids who would be left without insurance, and there will be challenges about access and expense," said Matthew Stinson, MD, Vice President of Medical and Behavioral Health Services at Jordan Valley Community Health Center.

Jordan Valley Health says it has 326 young patients on CHIP. It's a lot of kids whose parents could soon be without a way to pay for healthcare

Stinson said, "We have really strongly advocated that we would like to see that program continue so that we continue to be able to see kids and take care of kid preventative, so they do not need some of that chronic care as they get older."

If lawmakers still fail to take it up, Missouri's money for the program will run out sometime between January and April.

"They can make all the cuts they want but what happens when it is their children who are in need? Nobody stops to think about that," Compton said. "A child is a child, and they are our future, and people take that for granted."

CHIP has received bi-partisan support over the years from lawmakers. Senators Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill both say they support the program and will continue to fix this funding issue.