MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin health officials say the expiration of the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program won’t immediately affect children and families in the state.

The program provides health coverage to families that make too much money to qualify for Medicaid but don’t make enough to afford private insurance, Wisconsin Public Radio reported .

Funding lapsed over the weekend while Congress focused on the health care law.

The federal program funded the BadgerCare Plus program, which provided coverage to more than 171,000 children in Wisconsin during fiscal 2016, Medicaid officials said.

Wisconsin has enough funds from the program to continue giving coverage until April 2018, according to state Health Services Department officials. The department estimates that continuing coverage after that would cost the general fund $134 million through the end of the current state budget.

“Wisconsin will not allow children to fall through the cracks,” the department said in a statement. “This population will continue to be eligible for BadgerCare, if CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) is not reauthorized, but it would create a significant hole in the state’s Medicaid budget.”

Congress typically reauthorizes the federal program, said Dipesh Navsaria, associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

“I think to a certain extent we still expect that Congress will go ahead and reauthorize this,” Navsaria said. “However, so much of what has happened in the last few years in our federal government has not been the normal. So it’s hard to know what to expect.”

The longer Congress waits to reauthorize the program, the more likely it is for states to start restricting re-enrollment or renewals into the program, he said.


Information from: Wisconsin Public Radio, http://www.wpr.org