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Warning letters sent on health plan cutoff

SoVaNow.com / December 14, 2017
Letters began to go out Tuesday advising pregnant women and parents of young children that funding for their FAMIS health insurance will run out soon if Congress does not renew the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

In Virginia, federal CHIP funding pays for FAMIS, which provides health coverage for some 68,800 children and more than 1,100 pregnant women statewide.

In southern Virginia, more than 1,000 children receiving health services at PATH health centers would be affected be a cutoff of the program, said PATHS CEO Kay Crane. PATHS, a federally-funded community health provider, opened its five center this year in the Town of South Boston.

“The failure of Congress to reauthorize CHIP would impact our ability to get reimbursed for services for FAMIS patients. These are hard working parents who do not qualify for Medicaid, yet cannot afford [private insurance] or their employer does not offer it,” said Crane.

The letter send by Virginia’s Department of Medical Assistance Services explains that CHIP has enjoyed strong support of Congress for 20 years, but funding for the program lapsed in September.

“We are hopeful that Congress will once again provide the funding to continue this program. However, because Congress has not acted yet we need to let you know that there is a chance the FAMIS programs may have to shut down,” the letter says.

Virginia is one of several states that will soon run out of funding and will cease coverage by the end of January if Congress does not soon act.

“It is truly shameful that gridlock and dysfunction in Congress have left nearly 70,000 Virginians who depend on the FAMIS program hanging in limbo,” said Governor Terry McAuliffe. “After delaying these notifications to give Congress as much time to act as possible, Virginia has a responsibility to these families to inform them of the possibility that their coverage could lapse so they can be prepared as possible to explore alternatives,” he said.

A second letter is expected to be sent out in January if Congress fails to act. In the meantime those covered by the FAMIS program are advised to schedule doctor or dental appointments as soon as possible.

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