AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s administration is asking for $90 million more in federal funding in hopes of delaying health insurance cancellations for nearly half a million children.

Texas will end its Children’s Health Insurance Program on Jan. 31 unless it gets such funding. The state would send notices about the program’s termination to affected families days before Christmas, the Dallas Morning News reported .

The state Health and Human Services Commission requested $90 million from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services so the program can continue in Texas through February. The federal agency has until Dec. 9 to decide.

The commission is prepared to refer families to the Affordable Care Act’s online insurance marketplace if the funding is rejected. But there are several concerns about moving families from CHIP to the marketplace, said Adriana Kohler, senior health policy associate for advocacy group Texans Care for Children.

“Families might fall through the cracks, families might not be able to afford coverage in the marketplace,” Kohler said. “And then there’s the system issue that needs to be worked out. On the online marketplace, if you qualify for other insurance programs like CHIP, you cannot enroll in a marketplace plan. So these kids are technically eligible for CHIP, but their coverage will lapse after January.”

The commission initially estimated it had enough funding to keep the program running until February, but cut into its resources by waiving Hurricane Harvey victims’ CHIP fees and co-payments, said Carrie Williams, spokeswoman for the commission.

Congress let the program’s funding expire in September. The program covers 9 million children across the U.S.

Texas’ program covers more than 400,000 children whose parents have too high an income to qualify for Medicaid, but make less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

“State leaders need to stress the urgency of CHIP funding to Congress,” Kohler said. “The longer we wait, the closer Texas gets to cutting off health care for these kids.”


Information from: The Dallas Morning News, http://www.dallasnews.com