More than a million California children get their health insurance from the Children's Health Insurance Program, also know as "CHIP." Like they do with Medicaid, states split the costs for CHIP with the federal government. But Congress missed an Oct. 1 deadline to renew CHIP funding -- a lapse that many blame on the drawn-out effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. That fight put other health care priorities on the back burner, and anxiety is growing about when -- or if -- Congress will reauthorize the money to pay for them.
What exactly is CHIP?
CHIP is a little-known program but very important. Everyone knows about Medi-Cal, which covers lots of low-income children (and many adults as well), but CHIP is for children whose parents make too much money to qualify them for Medi-Cal, but don't have insurance through their jobs.
"It saddens me because, I mean, they're children. Children should not be politicized," said Dr. Porshia Mack, chief medical officer at the Tiburcio Vasquez Health Center in Hayward.
A lot of people agree with Mack. CHIP has never been a controversial program, unlike the Affordable Care Act. It's always had bipartisan support since its start in 1997. Everyone professes a desire to insure children, and kids are relatively cheap to insure, compared to adults and seniors.