TYLER - The Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is ending in 32 states across the country. Now, 450,000 Texas children are at risk.
"I feel like there are a lot of unknown's right now," said NET Health WIC Assistant Director, Jenny Lassiter. "To cut a program that insures the health of our children, and helps prevent a lot of potential health problems in the future, that's a little scary."
WIC is the federal assistance program that helps pregnant women and children. She said there is no backup plan for thousands of East Texans who would lose their insurance.
CHIP offers coverage to children from families who make more than what would qualify them for Medicaid, but less than enough to buy private insurance.
Lassiter said these children are often covered for dental and eye care, and typically annual doctor visits with their primary physician.
CBS19 spoke with the Texas Department of Health and Human Services. A statement from the department spokesperson, Carrie Williams, reads:
"We're closely monitoring congressional efforts to reauthorize the program and are hopeful that it will be extended prior to the exhaustion of our current allotment. Without congressional action, we estimate we'll be covered through Jan. 31."
According to Williams, a family of four in Texas qualifies for Medicaid if their monthly income is $2,727 or less and qualifies for CHIP if their monthly income is $4,121 or less.
Under Texas state law, Williams said the department must terminate the CHIP program when there are no longer federal funds available and must provide families with a notice of termination of CHIP eligibility no later than 30 days before the date the child’s eligibility terminates.
Williams said if the program is not renewed, HHSC will also send all children receiving CHIP to the Marketplace via an account transfer.
Without congressional action, Williams estimates children will be covered through Jan. 31, 2018.
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