UPDATE:  S.C. agency says funding will continue for children’s insurance program

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By Lindsay Street, Statehouse correspondent  |  Congress has missed the deadline to continue funding of the  federal program that insures millions of children nationwide and tens of thousands in South Carolina.

Following the Friday publication of this story, the state agency that heads the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)  said Friday the state of South Carolina would continue to fund the multi-million dollar program if federal funds dry up.   Last week, the S.C. Department of Health and Human Services was slow to respond to several questions about the CHIP program and missed a  deadline for Friday’s article.

In South Carolina, CHIP extends Medicaid-like coverage to children whose families earn more than 100 percent of the poverty level and up to 208 percent of the poverty level. There are an estimated 77,000 children receiving this no-cost insurance. The federal government allocated $154.2 million in 2017 for the program with no matching state dollars.

After the article ran, DHHS spokesman Colleen Mullis sent an email:

“South Carolina will potentially exhaust federal funds for CHIP in the third quarter (April-June 2018). However, the state plans to continue to fund the CHIP program.”

On Tuesday, she clarified the statement in a telephone conversation:

“We will continue to fund CHIP. We will use the federal funds and then we (the state) will fund CHIP,” Mullis said.  “There is not a plan to drop children or drop enrollment and we are going to continue to fund CHIP, but again it’s a hypothetical.”

She said the state has plans for funding the program if the federal government does not act.

South Carolina is in a better position than other states, observers say. Some states have only weeks before their federal money is exhausted, noted the former agency director, Christian Soura, who now works for the S.C. Hospital Association.

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