More than 75,000 Colorado children are slated to lose health insurance at the end of January if federal funding for the Children’s Health Plan Plus isn't renewed.
Monday, the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing began sending letters to CHP+ program members advising them to start researching private health insurance options.
Federal funding for the program ended on Sept. 30, but the state will continue to finance it until January 31.
According to NBC News, "CHIP has enjoyed bipartisan support since its inception in 1997, but this year, legislators let the deadline for reauthorizing it pass as they bickered over other health care issues, primarily the latest Republican-led push to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act."
Currently, more than 75,000 kids and nearly 800 pregnant women in Colorado are enrolled in CHP+ program, according to Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing.
"We're looking at a major change in our lives," said Longmont resident, Andrew Montoya.
His three girls, Scarlett, Katrina, and Audrey are all enrolled in CHP+ and he worries he'll need to change jobs if it goes away.
"We would jump from about $250 a month to somewhere between $750 and $1,000 a month for just the most basic of plans," Montoya said.
In Colorado, there are no immediate changes to CHP+ eligibility, enrollment, renewals or benefits. CHP+ members can continue using their benefits as normal.
"In the back of our minds is whether or not we're going to be on the hook next month for hundreds of dollars more for health insurance for our kids," Montoya said.
The department says it's working closely with Connect for Health Colorado in case Congress does not renew funding.
"Rather than waiting for the last minute, what we're asking families to do now is just to start shopping around and finding out what coverage options may be available to them," said Marc Williams with the Department of Healthcare Policy and Financing.
The loss of CHP+ coverage would be a life change event and would qualify as a special enrollment period through the marketplace.
Some currently covered by CHP+ could qualify for financial assistance to purchase a health plan offered by Connect for Health Colorado.
“It’s frustrating that our CHP+ families are facing this uncertainty, especially during the holidays,” Tom Massey, interim executive director of the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, said in statement. “We are hopeful the federal government will act quickly to renew funding and alleviate further worry by Colorado families who rely on this important program.”
The department is posting regular updates here about the future of the program.