Greg Peters column: Congress is creating a nightmare for Virginia families

Beginning this month, thousands of families will receive a letter stating that their child’s health insurance will end at the end of January 2018. After months of consideration, Congress has yet to reauthorize funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) — locally, the Family Access to Medical Insurance Security plan, or FAMIS — and it is heading toward allowing the funding to expire completely. Nationally, the program provides health insurance to 8.9 million kids and about 370,000 pregnant women.

The letter families receive will likely come as a complete shock. Many have no idea that their children’s insurance is quickly coming to an end and none of these families has the ability to purchase insurance through the marketplace or privately.

If Congress does not vote to fund CHIP within the next two weeks, 60,000 children and 1,000 pregnant women in Virginia will have no health care starting in 2018. These families will not be able to turn to Medicaid for coverage because they earn too much to qualify. But, with health care costs rising, they cannot afford the expensive premiums and deductibles for private insurance.

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