Despite Lapse in CHIP Funding, N.H. DHHS Says Coverage Doesn't Face Imminent Risk

Oct 6, 2017

At least for now, New Hampshire seems to be in a better position than other states to weather a lapse in federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, after Congress failed to reauthorize it by last week’s deadline.

New Hampshire officials say they planned for a possible disruption in CHIP funding when crafting the current state budget, and they expect to have enough money to fund the program through the biennium — barring any major changes in demand. According to DHHS Spokesman Jake Leon:

“The Department does not believe there is a shortfall in Medicaid funding for children’s health as a result of the recent expiration of CHIP funding. CHIP provided an enhanced match, but New Hampshire anticipated the funding expiration and budgeted this coverage at the traditional 50/50 match in the State budget that began July 1. Thus, while the State is no longer receiving the enhanced matching rate, CMS continues to provide the 50% match to serve this population and the State budgeted for the other 50%. Accordingly, we believe New Hampshire has adequate funding for all youth under 19, including the CHIP population, in the Medicaid program.”

Sen. Maggie Hassan and Congresswoman Annie Kuster spoke about the impact of cuts to CHIP and other programs at the offices of Girls Inc. in Concord on Friday.
Credit Casey McDermott, NHPR

But at an event in Concord on Friday, Congresswoman Annie Kuster said the uncertain long-term outlook for CHIP nationwide should still be cause for concern.

“In New Hampshire, we’re very fortunate. We’re not threatened with people dropping off the program today,” Kuster said. “In Minnesota, they’re dropping off the program today. This week. There are other states that don’t have this luxury.”

As of the end of last month, nearly 14,000 Granite State children were covered by CHIP.

Sen. Maggie Hassan, at the same event, said Congress shouldn’t leave states and healthcare providers — or the patients who rely on these programs — waiting without a firm solution.

“Some states are better prepared to weather this uncertainty than others,” Hassan said. “But at a certain point, the damage will kick in.”

CHIP wasn’t the only program whose funding expired on Sept. 30. A block of money relied upon by many community health centers in New Hampshire and a program that provides incentives for healthcare providers to work in rural areas are also awaiting now-overdue reauthorization.